Bullying And Sexual Harassment Significantly Present In Iceland's Parliament

Bullying And Sexual Harassment Significantly Present In Iceland’s Parliament

Published May 20, 2020

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

A new survey conducted by the social sciences department of the University of Iceland of employees at Iceland’s parliament, including its MPs, shows that bullying and sexual harassment is of significant presence in that workplace—despite Parliament’s own regulations forbidding such practices.

75.4% of respondents said that they believed their gender did not have any impact on how they were treated by others, while 20.4% said they believed they have been treated worse because of their gender and only 4.2% believed they were treated better. 59% of female MPs and 17% of male MPs reported being treated worse on account of their genders.

On the subject of bullying, 80% of parliamentary employees responded that they had never experienced it, while 20% said that they had. Bullying was most common amongst parliamentarians, with 35.7% reporting having been bullied on the job or in connection to it. The same was also reported amongst 15% of parliamentary office workers and 6.3% of parliamentary party workers.

16% reported having been sexually harassed on the job or in connection to it; half of them only within Parliament, 25% both within and outside of the workplace, and 25% only outside the workplace. Most of the perpetrators, or 87.5%, were men. Gender-based harassment was reported by 18.4% of respondents, most of them (31.8%) parliamentarians, with more women than men experiencing it. Again, most of the perpetrators were men, or 74%.

Despite parliamentarian regulations expressly forbidding gender-based harassment, only two respondents who experienced it actually reported the incidents.

This is not a new problem in Parliament. As reported last year, this situation has been ongoing in Parliament for years now. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir responded to a study published at the time by saying that opening a dialogue on the matter is a necessary and healthy response.

“We have now been at the forefront when it comes to gender equality in the world, but I think many people have had a shock experiencing this violence culture that is linked to the gender system in our community,” she said at the time. “But the good thing about this is that I think we are starting to talk a lot more and more openly about it.”

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