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Speier: 'Time To Throw Back The Curtain' On Congressional Sexual Harassment

28 October 2017

"If you're coming forward with a complaint you're already weighed the potential jeopardy to your job so that seems more of a discouraging tactic versus something that actually helps the complainant". "I know what it's like to keep these things hidden deep down inside".

In the video, Speier describes the alleged assailant as a powerful staffer, who at the time was almost 30 years her elder, in the office of a Democratic congressman from California. Next week, she's also planning to introduce a bill to reform the Congressional office that handles harassment complaints, which victims say has been unhelpful and unable to stem the problem.

And she's urging staffers to share their stories of sexual harassment on a new hashtag, #MeTooCongress.

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"Many of us in Congress know what it's like because Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long", she added. Few female lawmakers have spoken out about the possible sexual harassment they might have endured while working in the government, but one congresswoman from California is setting out to change that. She said she felt "humiliation and anger".

She, along with Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Michigan), is introducing legislation next week aimed at reforming how Congress addresses sexual harassment and assault allegations.

The current system is "constructed to protect the institution - and to impede the victim from getting justice", Speier told Politico.

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The bill mandates sexual harassment training for congressional staff and rewrites the process for reporting sexual assault and harassment complaints. Now there is no requirement for sexual harassment training - although each individual office may elect to voluntarily have their staff watch a sexual harassment training video offered by the Office of Compliance. The accuser must first engage in 30 days of counseling with a legal counselor in the OOC. "Are you kidding me?"

Speier is pushing to change the system for reporting sexual harassment and assault on Capitol Hill after several high-profile men, including Harvey Weinstein, Leon Wieseltier, and Mark Halperin, have been accused of serial sexual misconduct.

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Speier: 'Time To Throw Back The Curtain' On Congressional Sexual Harassment