The opportunity for public comments from citizens of New Mexico about the need for outside, independent oversight of sexual harassment claims inside the state’s legislature will close January 8.
Recent news in New Mexico and across the country highlights the problem of sexual harassment in campaign and political environments, but we have known it has existed for years.
Sexualized comments, “jokes,” comments about women’s bodies, lewd and/or threatening communications, a pressure to spend time with the person, sexually explicit gestures, unwelcome touching or hugging, stalking, groping, ranging all the way to sexual assault. One word keeps surfacing – pervasive.
ProgressNowNM joined a coalition of community and non-profit organizations* calling for elected leaders in the Roundhouse and in political parties to step up to put an end to the culture. We need your help to show that real New Mexicans behind organizations like ours will stand up for champions working to end sexual harassment in New Mexico politics.
We’re fighting to ensure that the legislature has a policy that reflects the following components:
- An OUTSIDE entity (not legislative staff or legislators) reviewing complaints and doing any necessary investigation and recommended action for ALL complaints.
- Required training by an OUTSIDE (not legislative staff, lawyers or legislators) organization with expertise (a coalition of sexual assault programs) on doing this training with a focus on preventing sexual harassment, which includes bystander training, a minimum of 4 hours in-person training, and creating a culture based on respect.
- DO NOT INCLUDE ANY “false reporting” line in any policy. False reporting is a myth. This is a complicated issue and victims withdraw their complaints for many reasons, including safety reasons. There are already laws dealing with accusing someone for other reasons (defamation, libel, etc). Putting any line on false reporting only serves as a chilling effect.
- This is an important moment for us to make clear what we expect from our elected officials in PREVENTING sexual harassment:
- Believe women and provide a CONFIDENTIAL (if she chooses) way to report issues, be heard and believed
- Treat people with respect
- Address their colleagues’ disrespect, sexual harassment, sexual violence, when they see it by getting trained on bystander response as part of the required training
- Pass a real and meaningful policy that actually changes the culture in the Roundhouse and the reality for women that have experienced sexual harassment our whole lives
As part of our ongoing effort with our coalition of community and non-profit organizations to end sexual harassment in the Roundhouse, we also created a petition that will be shared with legislative leaders.
If you haven’t signed it already, CLICK HERE to add your name.
Some leaders have already taken action. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced plans to require every lobbyist to undergo sexual harassment training and publish the list of those who don’t (nmpoliticalreport.com, 11/22/17). Democratic Party Chairman Richard Ellenberg will now require all Democratic candidates to complete similar training before receiving help from the party (Associated Press, 11/20/17). And House Speaker Brian Egolf has already asked staff to evaluate policies before the next legislative session starts in a few weeks.
These are all good starts, but we’ll need your help to keep the momentum going and get the rest of New Mexico’s elected leaders on board.
Thank you for speaking up on this important issue!