Women on Capitol Hill speak out about sexual harassment
WASHINGTON — On Capitol Hill, female members of Congress say they have been the victims of sexual harassment.
“This is about a member who is here now,” U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock said. “I don’t know who it is.”
The Virginia Republican told her colleagues Tuesday about one of their fellow members of Congress who asked a staffer to bring documents to his house.
“And the young staffer, it was a young woman, went there, and was greeted with a member in a towel, who is a male, who then who invited her in,” Comstock said. “At that point he decided to expose himself. She left and then she quit her job.”
California Democratsaid she knows — one a Democrat and one a Republican — who are still in Congress. She said complaints against them include “victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor,” she said.
Speier herself was assaulted when she was a Hill staffer.
“The chief of staff held my face, kissed me, and stuck his tongue in my mouth,” Speier said.
Since she shared her story, other current and former female lawmakers have said “Me Too” — a wake-up call for their male colleagues.
“It’s been startling to me that there are so many pigs out there,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said. “I don’t know how else to put it.”
Speier blames a Byzantine reporting process on Capitol Hill that requires victims to wait at least 90 days before they can file a sexual harassment complaint.
“The present system may have been OK for the dark ages; it is not appropriate for the 21st century,” Speier said.
The Senate voted last week to mandate sexual harassment training for senators and their aides, and the House Speaker announced today he would require the same thing. This action came after 1,500 former staffers signed a petition saying that Congress needs to be held to the same rules as the rest of the federal government.
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