National conversation needed on sexual harassment

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Sian Gwenllian AM has said that sexual harassment is ‘endemic’ in Wales in conjuction with the announcment that a new committee on Women and Equalities will be announced and co-founded by Sian Gwenllian AM for Plaid Cymru and Jane Hutt AM for Labour.

Speaking today before the debate in the Senedd chamber on the Respect and Dignity Policy, Sian Gwenllian AM and Plaid Cymru spokesperson for equalities said, 

“I welcome this statement regarding the new Dignity and Respect policy that the National Assembly for Wales will adopt but we have to recognise that this is a small step on a very long journey to tackle the endemic of sexual harassment in Wales.

It was only this week that figures from National Union of Students Wales revealed that 101 students had reported harassment or sexual violence between October 2017 and May 2018. A study by the National Union of Students demonstrates that 68 per cent of women on a university or college campus have experienced sexual harassment, and one in seven has suffered a violent sexual assault. 1 in 4 women in England and Wales suffer domestic violence. The figure for men is 13%. 

Yes, the recent attention in the press on sexual harassment and violence in response to the #MeToo movement has open the Pandora’s box and raised awareness of the issue and it is encouraging to see a new conversation on behaviour that was previously thought to be acceptable. But we have to be honest about the fact that this continuum of violence and harassment relates to broader cultural patterns of inequality, and maintaining and reproducing an unequal power relationship is at the heart of all of this.

Solving this requires a wider cultural and social solution and that begins with a national conversation.

If we are to see the real change Wales needs then we have to talk openly and learn as individually and collectively  the best way to change these behaviours. We also need to create a safe space where individuals can discuss these issues confidently and openly.”

Sian Gwenllian AM will use the debate to call on the Welsh Government to “hold a national survey as a way of beginning the national conversation that is needed – particularly on the issue of sexual harassment”  

Sian Gwenllian AM added,

“This began with #MeToo. Change is afoot and we will no longer accept sexual harassment as an unavoidable part of life. I also will not accept avoiding having the conversation in Wales on the matter.

There is a responsibility on our National Assembly to be at the vanguard of holding national conversation to ensure that we ultimately build an equal society thjat is free from sexual violence and harassment”

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