RI NOW on the continuing need for Sexual Harassment Commission

Hilary Levey Friedman, RI NOW President

Throughout 2018 sexual harassment has dominated public discourse, both nationally and here in our state. This is especially true at the Rhode Island State House. In June, the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Organization for Women (RI NOW) spoke out several times on the need for sexual harassment legislation to be seriously considered by the General Assembly, especially the set of bills that came out of the sexual harassment commission chaired by Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown).

In the wake of further allegations of sexual harassment—related to members of the leadership team in the House of Representatives—we again want to emphasize the need to pass legislation that protects all Rhode Island residents from harassment and discrimination at work. While much of the focus is on gender, other categories like race, religion, and age come under the purview of this work as well.

We thank Representative Christopher Blazejewski (Democrat, District 2, East Providence, Providence) for reopening the legislative conversation about sexual harassment, especially at the State House, this week. That said, it is imperative that female legislators be involved in this discussion and not just the predominantly male leadership team in the House, which has previously dismissed accusations of sexual harassment.

In particular, we call on House leadership to reconvene the Sexual Harassment Task Force with an expanded mission to address State House internal governance on matters related to sexual harassment. As in many other aspects of State House leadership we demand more, rather than less transparency when it comes to these issues. We continue to stand with those who speak out on sexual harassment.

[From a press release]

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