Many Dutch parliament staffers are bullied, harassed or face discrimination

A large minority of people who work in the Tweede Kamer said they are subjected to inappropriate behavior at the workplace, sometimes sexual in nature, and often at the hands of Members of Parliament, too civil servants and other staffers. Staffers subjected to transgressive behavior also said this happened in varying degrees, they said as part of a study into the working environment in the Tweede Kamer which was set to be released on Monday.

It concerns matters such as gossip, derogatory remarks, denigration, discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, and also “improper pressure to do something that goes against the rules or is not ethical.” It is mainly members of parliament and civil service executives who are accused of being guilty of transgressive behavior. Furthermore, it appears that those who complain and those who are accused are insufficiently guarded with regard to social safety.

The research was carried out by Utrecht University, a copy of which was given to ANP. It will be made public later Monday afternoon. It is not a fact-finding investigation, and only concerns allegations of transgressive behavior, the report emphasized. The Tweede Kamer chair decided to conduct the investigation in June 2021 after she had received many notifications of undesirable behavior within the Tweede Kamer.

According to the researchers, there seems to be a “certain reluctance” to report abuse. The system for reporting such incidents does not work properly. “In this way, the lack of comprehensive policy and systems reinforces and supports the existing formal and informal power differences between civil servants, party employees and MPs. Social security policy is therefore not blind to status.”

In recent years, much more attention has been paid to social safety in the Tweede Kamer, but the approach is still insufficient, according to the report. “The parliamentary policy on undesirable behavior in the Tweede Kamer falls short.” The approach to social safety is insufficiently embedded in the work process, and elsewhere.

Social safety in the Tweede Kamer came into the spotlight last year after it became known that former Labor MP Khadija Arib allegedly created an unsafe working atmosphere during her time as chair of the Tweede Kamer. Arib has since left the Tweede Kamer.

Reporting by ANP

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