Sexual harassment in politics has always been a tough to deal with issue.
Sexual harassment allegations have been making daily news headlines due to high-profile stories from Hollywood elites, news stations and now the political sphere. What does it mean for victims now that sexual harassment in politics is getting the coverage it desperately needed?
Like the Hollywood elites, politicians have used their power, money and authority to keep allegations hushed, until now, thanks to Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin. In a press conference, Gov. Bevin called for any lawmakers or government employees to resign if they've settled any sexual harassment claims.
In a statement from Governor Matt Bevin on the alleged misconduct from members of House of Representatives:
"These alleged actions, which haven't been denied, are reprehensible, indefensible and unacceptable. Any elected official or state employee who has settled a sexual harassment claim should resign immediately. The people of Kentucky deserve better. We appropriately demand a high level of integrity from our leaders, and will tolerate nothing less in our state."
This response from Governor Bevin comes after reports were released showing that House Speaker Jeff Hoover, a Republican from Kentucky, had secretly settled a sexual harassment claim outside of court. A female staffer filed the sexual harassment complaint. At the press conference, Bevin stated that there were "multiple events and multiple people", when referring to sexual harassment allegations, making it clear that Hoover wasn't the only one. Hoover declined to resign, but agreed to step down from his "leadership role".
According to Politico, six women have come forward to accuse Florida Senate budget chair Latvala of sexual harassment. These new stories signal a shift in politics. Victims are no longer willing to stay quiet about matters of sexual harassment now that they believe they may be taken seriously.
What could this mean for sexual harassment victims now that more and more are stepping forward to publicly share their stories?
- More awareness leads to more communication about the issue and taking victims complaint's seriously
- More awareness reduces the stigma of speaking up
- Victims will feel like they can pursue their complaints and/or seek legal action
- The public can pressure those guilty of wrongdoing to step down from their positions of power
- Lawmakers can propose stronger bills to protect employees from harassment, discrimination and retaliation