LabourToo is the brave hashtag exposing sexual assault in the Labour Party

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Carly-Ann Clements
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The Labour Party is being urged to change its procedures after 43 stories of abuse have been reported through the LabourToo website.

Earlier this week, it was announced that a dossier containing 43 accounts of harassment, abuse and sexual violence against women in the Labour party had been submitted to Jeremy Corbyn and Iain McNicol.

The reports were the result of LabourToo – an unofficial site where women can share their experiences anonymously in the hopes of causing the political party to reform the way they deal with such claims.

Following the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the launch of the #MeToo movement, six anonymous and long-standing members of the Labour party were inspired to launch the LabourToo site in October 2017. The main aim was to offer women a platform to speak out against misconduct that is usually filed away and forgotten, or not reported in the first place.

In just two months, the website received dozens stories giving examples of rape, serial groping and inappropriate sexual comments, all taking place within political settings including Westminster.

2020 Feminist events calendar: the Feminist Tour of London
2020 Feminist events calendar: the Feminist Tour of London

In an article written for The Guardian, the ‘LabourToo Activists’ said: “Our experiences over decades point to a culture that tolerates the routine dismissal of women’s encounters with abuse, and gives little redress to victims seeking justice from mainly senior male perpetrators.”

The article also outlines that there were a number of reports that mention “men who were ‘handsy’ or ‘inappropriate’” – men who were well known Labour members, with one’s behaviour being described as “that’s just how he is.”

The “shocking and distressing” reports were submitted to the Labour leaders in the hopes of convincing “those who run our Party to take these issues more seriously and create a consensus to change policy and cultural norms within our organisation.”

In wake of the stories, activists and female MPs have come forward to support the LabourToo movement. Labour MP Stella Creasy told the BBC “it was heart breaking to read the systematic list of what’s been happening and also… the concept of common knowledge it talks about.”

In addition to LabourToo, HuffPost published a report that states that out of the 40 female MPs interviewed, 30% had experienced sexual harassment. 

In light of the reports, Labour has encouraged individuals who have experienced misconduct to make official complaints and that procedures are being assessed.

“Labour is committed to continually improving our procedures, which is why Karon Monaghan QC has been appointed to make an independent assessment of the party’s current procedures for dealing with sexual harassment and an independent specialist organisation is conducting an audit into the procedures from the perspective of those who have experienced sexual harassment,” said a spokeswoman.

Though LabourToo probably won’t affect direct change, we hope it raises awareness and accelerates reforms.

Images: iStock and Rex Features