OTTAWA – The majority of political staffers who told The Canadian Press they had personally experienced sexual misconduct on the job chose not to report it, with many saying they worried doing so would mean negative consequences for their careers.
The Canadian Press distributed a questionnaire to those working in offices of MPs, senators and cabinet ministers in Ottawa last month, asking them to share their opinions and experiences with sexual assault and sexual harassment on Parliament Hill.
Sixty-five of the 266 survey respondents said they had personally experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment.
Twenty said they had been the target of at least one incident of sexual assault.
Only six of the respondents who said they had been the target of sexual harassment in their role as a political staffer said they reported the incident that had the biggest impact on them.
Of the 57 people who said they did not report the sexual harassment, 61 per cent of them listed not thinking it was serious enough to merit a complaint as one of the reasons.
About 47 per cent, meanwhile, said they were afraid it would have a negative impact on their career; the same percentage said they did not believe reporting the incident would make a difference.
Thirty-five per cent said they were worried they would be disbelieved or not taken seriously, while one-third said they did not know where to report it.
There were a couple of respondents, however, who said not reporting it was the right thing to do.
“(I am) of the view that you deal directly with the individual to let them know you feel it is inappropriate,” one wrote.
Only two respondents said they reported their experience of sexual assault that made the biggest impact.
Neither woman said she was satisfied with how their complaints were handled: one said her story was ignored and the other said she was not believed.
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