Today MSPs debated the publication of the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee report.
The report comes after the sexual harassment survey, conducted in the Parliament late last year, found that 1 in 5 people working at the Scottish Parliament had experienced some form of sexual harassment.
The report aims to introduce new mechanisms of reporting harassment which would help to make complainants feel more confident in coming forward.
It was highlighted in the debate that it can often seem very difficult to know how to report harassment, especially if it may threaten a person’s job prospects. The report therefore aims to remove these barriers to encourage more people to come forward to help towards the elimination of sexual harassment.
Michelle Ballantyne, MSP for South Scotland, along with members from all other parties welcomed the introduction of a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment in the Scottish Parliament and went on to express her deep concern at the figures which were exposed in the survey.
Mrs. Ballantyne was part of the cross-party working group set up immediately after the survey results were released and worked with colleagues across the Parliament on assisting in the creation of this report.
The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee report emphasised that in the majority of institutions in Scotland under-reporting is endemic and in the Scottish Parliament that is no exception. Mrs Ballantyne summed up for the Scottish Conservatives by commending the swift action taken by the committee and the working group and highlighting the fact that the Scottish Parliament should be setting the standards of best practice for others to emulate.
Michelle Ballantyne MSP commented:
“We cannot simply be witnesses or bystanders, we must take an active role in eliminating sexual harassment.
“I think everyone here, across the Chamber agrees that to have 30% of women feel that they have experienced some form of sexual harassment is clearly not acceptable. Worryingly the most common response to sexual harassment was to do nothing.
“On top of this, nearly one third of respondents had witnessed harassment or sexism. Again, one of the most common responses was to do nothing.
“The new reporting procedures should allow for more confidence for the complainant, as well as balancing confidentially and anonymity with transparency and fairness.
“In positions of power we have a responsibility to lead by example.”