Rosena Allin-Khan

Rosena Allin-Khan: Labour deputy leader candidate speaks out about her experience of workplace sexual harassment

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Labour deputy leader candidate MP Rosena Allin-Khan has spoken out about her experience of sexual harassment during her time as an NHS doctor – and her words are a powerful reminder of the impact workplace harassment can have.

Labour deputy leadership candidate Rosena Allin-Khan has spoken out about the “horrific” sexual harassment she experienced before her time as an MP.

Speaking to The Independent, Allin-Khan revealed how she had been the victim of inappropriate behaviour during her time as an NHS junior doctor. 

Asked about the party’s handling of sexual harassment complaints, she said: “I do know what it’s like to face harassment like that in the workplace in my life – not in politics, in a previous work life – and it is horrific. You dread coming to work every day. It takes over your whole life and it takes somebody to believe you and believe in you to change it.

“And for me,” she continued, “it is absolutely acceptable for anyone to feel that there is a space for that to happen to them within this workplace and within our movement. The moment I ever got wind of anything like that, I’d ensure there was a full investigation. No judgement placed on the person who was complaining.”

The Labour party has been the subject of a number of sexual harassment allegations over the past couple of years, with news this week revealing that Hartlepool MP Mike Hill will be facing sexual assault and harassment claims in an employment tribunal – all of which he denies.

Speaking about the action she would take if made deputy Labour leader, Allin-Khan added: “I think a big fear, and certainly what I felt when I experienced this as a junior doctor, is the feeling that if you speak out your whole career is over. We need to remove that concern from anyone.”

Woman working on a laptop
Sexual harassment in the workplace: according to a 2017 survey for BBC Radio 5 Live, 63% of women who said they had been harassed at work didn’t report it to anyone.

According to a 2017 survey for BBC Radio 5 Live, 63% of women who said they had been harassed at work didn’t report it to anyone. And when recent studies have found that 48% of accused harassers have been allowed to return to work, it’s clear that something needs to be done to deal with this massive issue, especially when research from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) suggests as many as one in two women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.

Earlier this year, actor and activist Emma Watson launched a free advice line to provide victims of workplace sexual harassment with help on topics including identifying sexual harassment, how to bring a complaint against an employer, the Employment Tribunal procedure and Settlement/Non-Disclosure agreements, in a bid to make the workplace safer for everyone. 

“Understanding what your rights are, how you can assert them and the choices you have if you’ve experienced harassment is such a vital part of creating safe workplaces for everyone, and this advice line is such a huge development in ensuring that all women are supported, wherever we work,” Watson told The Guardian.    

You can find out more about the issue of sexual harassment, including how to help, here.

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.

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