Current procedures are inadequate for dealing with allegations of sexual harassment and assault, former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has said.
Speaking in the Welsh Assembly in October, Ms Wood told AMs that “all too often nothing happens” when allegations are made.
The Rhondda AM said she was setting up “a new network” nationwide to provide support for women making allegations of inappropriate behaviour.
Ms Wood said that every woman she knows has experienced unwanted sexual attention.
“One year on from the #MeToo movement, and the sea change that many of us hoped it would spark has not happened,” she said.
“Encouraging people to report is important, but all too often, when they do, nothing happens.”
“Police and victim support services are underfunded, waiting lists for counselling and other support are unacceptably along.”
She branded organisations’ procedures “inadequate”, saying they were “unable to deal with the particular characteristics of sexual harassment and assault”.
Ms Wood added: “People don’t have confidence in our systems and the majority of incidents, therefore, go unreported.
“So, I’m putting out a call today for anyone interested in changing how we tackle sexual harassment and assault to get in touch with me to be part of a new network.”
Wood later went on to describe her own experiences with sexual harassment in a piece for Wales Online. She described how, early in 2018, a man in a Brussels bar “casually placed his hand on my backside while attempting to start a conversation.”
“Sexual harassment and pervasive rape culture thrive on denial, minimisation and the knowledge that people on the receiving end are reluctant to complain.”
“The majority of decent men think of sexual harassment as something that is happening somewhere else. It can be hard to accept that it is happening every day in their own institutions and workplaces, to their own sisters, mothers, daughters.”
“At the same time, women who have to experience the leers, the inappropriate touching and suggestive or lewd comments that are the early warning signs of a darker undercurrent are all too used to brushing things off and learning, often by talking to other women, who to avoid rather than tackling the problem head-on or at source.”
In her newly-appointed role as Shadow Cabinet Minister for Housing and Social Justice, Wood added that she is seeking to address these structural issues through the long-term development of a national network which will offer help to those affected by sexual abuse and harassment.
She went on to encourage women to feed into the development process by contacting her.
Leanne Wood AM can be contacted on : Leanne.Wood@assembly.wales.
By Polly Manning