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Swedish MPs share stories of sexual harassment in politics

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Swedish MPs share stories of sexual harassment in politics
Annie Lööf, the leader of Sweden’s Centre Party. Photo: Alexander Larsson Vierth / TT
09:25 CEST+02:00
More than 20 of Sweden’s MPs have experienced sexual harassment while working in politics, a survey published on Thursday revealed.

According to a survey carried out by the Expressen newspaper, 23 MPs said they had been harassed or assaulted.

“Aside from all the online hate, which often has a crude sexual undertone, I’ve also had unwelcome hands on my body within a political context,” said Annie Lööf, the leader of Sweden’s Centre Party.

VOICES: 'We think we're an equal society, but harassment happens here too'

Linda Snecker from the Left Party told the newspaper: “For several years I have been sexually harassed via text messages, both when I was starting out as a politician and as an MP. It's been pictures and extensive descriptions of sex that people have sent to me. Once it led to a conviction which was a big victory.”

In the questionnaire, which was sent to 347 of Sweden’s 349 MPs, the politicians were asked: Have you experienced sexual harassment/assault in connection with your role as an MP or in connection with your political work?

Of the 101 who responded, 23 said they had been harassed or assaulted in connection with their work in politics. This number included both women and men although women made up the majority, and five of the respondents said they had been harassed by another MP.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström last week called for more action on a political level to tackle gendered harassment. 

Praising the many women who shared their experiences as part of the global #MeToo campaign, Wallström said: "These are brave women and girls around the world, but I also think of this as a politician: What do we do? This type of call is not enough, it also has to lead to action."

Asked if she had experienced such harassment personally, she said: "I don't want to talk about it from too personal a perspective, but I can confirm that it exists at the highest political level and I, too, have experienced that."

Hundreds of Swedish women, including well-known figures from the worlds of acting, comedy, journalism, and tech, shared their stories under the #MeToo hashtag and called for more to be done to tackle harassment.

The campaign was started in response to the allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of raping, harassing, and assaulting multiple women over a period of several years, including a number of well-known actresses.

It has led to multiple investigations into high-profile figures accused of harassment, including in Sweden, where Martin Timell, one of the country's best-known TV presenters, the high-profile journalist Fredrik Virtanen at the Aftonbladet newspaper, and television presenter Lasse Kronér at public broadcaster SVT are among those accused of various offences by former co-workers.

READ MORE: Swedish media probes sexual offence allegations

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