‘Keep your hands in your pockets’, a British minister told male lawmakers. 2022-04-29 02:29:00


British International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain, January 25, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nichols

Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com

LONDON (Reuters) – British Trade Minister Annemarie Trevelyan said all women working in Parliament had been subjected to inappropriate touching or sexist language and advised male colleagues to keep their hands in their pockets.

Lawmakers’ behavior has come into focus after the ruling Conservative Party said this week it was investigating allegations that a member of Parliament had been seen watching pornography in the House of Commons debate room. Read more

Trevelyan said some male politicians believed that being elected to a senior position had made them “God’s blessing to women”.

Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com

Trevelyan told Sky News: “I think all of us as women in Parliament have been subjected to inappropriate language and frivolous hands… It’s okay anywhere. It’s not okay in Westminster either.”

“Essentially, if you’re a man, keep your hands in your pockets and act as if you had your daughter in the room.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that viewing pornography would not be acceptable in any workplace. Read more

This is not the first misconduct scandal in Parliament House as hundreds of MPs and their staff and other workers mingle long hours with high-pressure jobs with social distancing in the many bars and restaurants of the Palace of Westminster.

In 2017, the #MeToo movement that began involving women’s experiences of sexual misconduct in Hollywood sparked similar cases in the British Parliament. Then-Secretary of Defense Michael Fallon resigned, admitting that his behavior had fallen short.

The following year, a report found that nearly one in five people working in Parliament had experienced sexual harassment or witnessed inappropriate behavior in the previous year.

Parliamentary authorities have promised reforms, particularly in the complaints procedure, but Trevelyan on Friday cited many of the same underlying factors and said she had “called” the men “with stray hands”.

“There are very few who drink a lot or see that being elected somehow makes them a gift from God to women can suddenly satisfy themselves,” she said.

“I will always encourage women to feel empowered to express it publicly, but it is difficult for those who are younger and where that difference of strength is very real.”

Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com

(Reporting by William James and Movija M. Editing by Kate Holton

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.