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Gillibrand wants better system for fighting sexual harassment in Congress

Photo by Tom Rivers: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand meets Albion students and teachers on Monday during a visit to the high school to promote federal funding for new technology for Career and Technical Education programs.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 November 2017 at 11:29 am

‘The women and men coming forward are an inspiration because they are changing our society in a way that is making it unacceptable for people to turn a blind eye to sexual violence.’

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has been a crusader against sexual assaults in the military and on college campuses.

Now she is pushing comprehensive legislation to combat sexual harassment in Congressional offices. Her bill would create more transparency in Congressional offices and give sexual harassment victims the resources and protections they need to report incidents.

“Congress should never be above the law or play by their own set of rules,” she said. “The current process has little accountability and even less sensitivity to victims of sexual harassment.

Gillibrand’s legislation would do the following:

• Modernize and streamline the process for sexual harassment victims to report within the Office of Compliance

• Create a designated person within the Office of Compliance to serve as a confidential advisor for victims of harassment

• Require mandatory annual sexual harassment training for both Members and staff

• Remove the current requirement that victims go through mediation before filing a complaint against an assailant

• Require a climate survey to give a comprehensive analysis of the scope of this problem in Congress

• Give interns access to the same resources as full-time staff

• Require that each office post notices that detail the rights and protections of employees

Gillibrand has been a leading voice in the Senate in combatting sexual assault, and her bills to address the scourge of sexual assault on college campuses and in the military have broad, bipartisan support.

“What we are seeing from the powerful #MeToo campaign is that sexual assault and sexual harassment are pervasive across our entire society,” she said. “What you see time and again in institutions all around the country is a culture where power and fear keep sexual assault and sexual harassment in the shadows. Congress is no different. The women and men coming forward are an inspiration because they are changing our society in a way that is making it unacceptable for people to turn a blind eye to sexual violence. They are showing we can build a more just society for ourselves, our families and future generations by shining a light on injustice and saying we will not accept it anymore.”

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