Justice for victims of sexual abuse and harassment: lessons for Westminster?

Bates, Lis (2018). Justice for victims of sexual abuse and harassment: lessons for Westminster? Journal of Gender Based Violence, 2(2) pp. 397–402.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1332/239868018X15263882926256


This policy paper is a comment piece on recent sexual harassment and abuse scandals in the British Parliament, which also references new UK research on justice and gender-based violence.The author draws on six years working for the British Parliament as a clerk (parliamentary civil servant) to reflect on why the parliamentary culture and management has long ignored sexual harassment, abuse and bullying, often moving victims on rather than challenging (alleged) perpetrators. The paper presents current research being conducted by the universities of Bristol, Cardiff and UWE and national charity Women’s Aid, which is asking ‘What does justice mean to victims of gender-based violence?’ Using emerging findings from interviews with over 250 victims/survivors of gender- based abuse, the paper draws lessons for how the House of Commons authorities should respond to sexual harassment and abuse within Parliament.Vital in any victim-centred response are some key principles.Victims/survivors must: be listened to and taken seriously, be empowered to make their own choices about what happens next, be given a range of options including formal sanctions as well as less formal routes, potentially including specialist ‘transformational mediation’ and, most crucially, all be given access to specialist advocates trained in sexual harassment and abuse.

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