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  • Up to 55% of women have been sexually harassed in the EU 
  • Reporting should be made easier for victims  
  • Perpetrators should face tough and dissuasive sanctions 

Sexual harassment victims should be helped to report cases and perpetrators should face sanctions, say MEPs in a non-legislative resolution adopted on Tuesday.

In the context of the public debate prompted by the Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo campaign, which helped to redraw the boundaries of what constitutes sexual harassment and acceptable behaviour, MEPs adopted on Tuesday a resolution (528 votes in favour, 48 against, 115 abstentions) on measures to combat mobbing and sexual harassment in the EU.

Deploring the fact that laws and the definitions in this area vary across member states, MEPs call on the EU Commission to submit a proposal on the subject and to propose a Directive against all forms of violence against women (VAW), including updated common definitions and legal standards on criminalising VAW.

Victims should not be afraid to report a case in the workplace

The resolution underlines the urgent need for member states, local authorities, employers and trade unions to understand the barriers that victims face in reporting cases of sexual harassment in the workplace and to offer them full support to report these cases safely, without fear of possible consequences.

It also calls on member states to encourage workplace policies based on prevention, confidential procedures to deal with complaints, and tough and dissuasive sanctions for perpetrators.

Zero tolerance of sexual harassment in politics

MEPs call on all political parties to tackle sexual harassment notably by revising party rules to introduce a zero-tolerance policy and sanctions for perpetrators.

They also urge parliaments to fully support victims, investigate cases and maintain a confidential register of cases. All staff and members of national, regional and local parliaments, as well as of the European Parliament, should follow mandatory training on respect and dignity, they add.

“Virtual” public spaces: how to combat online harassment

The resolution urges the EU Commission to come up with a new definition of “public space”, reflecting evolving communication technologies and the rise of ”virtual” public spaces such as social networks and websites, which have created more possibilities for harassment and violence at every level of society. MEPs call on member states to remind internet providers of their duty to protect their online customers by addressing cases of repetitive abuse or stalking and to inform the perpetrators that they cannot act with impunity.

Finally, they reiterate that awareness-raising campaigns and education at every level are fundamental tools in helping to address gender-based violence in public spaces.