Investigation finds sexual misconduct rampant in New Jersey politics

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TRENTON – Almost two-thirds of women and more than a quarter of men who responded to a survey of sexual harassment and misconduct in New Jersey politics say they have been harassed, with elected officials the most common culprit.

More than 500 people responded the poll led by the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Thirty percent of women surveyed said sexual harassment is extremely prevalent in New Jersey politics, compared to 11% of men.

“This report shows that we have a major problem of misogyny and harassment in New Jersey government and politics,” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of NJCASA.

In total, 57% of those surveyed said they had experienced harassment such as sexual remarks, sexist or misogynistic comments, unwanted touching or gestures or persistent and unwanted sexual invitations.

“This number is just unacceptable,” Teffenhart said. “We are calling on our leaders now: stop excusing bad behavior. Make changes today that can help prevent violence in the future. The data is clear – the status quo can no longer be accepted. “

The 27-question survey was launched in January and closed in April. Participation was voluntary and anonymous. Seventy-eight percent of the respondents identified themselves as female.

The report included a sample of responses received to an open-ended question:

“The biggest problem is that they all think they’re the good guys. They’re not one of the good guys: they’re just one of the few.

“My ‘boss’ would have just said it was consensual because I didn’t stop it, but it cannot be consensual when one is an employer and the other is an employee. He had all the power, the name, the position – so I was silent. “

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“It’s everywhere. That’s all.

“If I’m brutally honest, I probably wouldn’t report it. I have no faith that the outcome would be positive. This is never the case. Even though everyone pretends to support the victim, they are now considered “difficult”.

Some of the responses criticized the survey and the idea behind it:

“Women who use sexuality as a tool for progress and then complain when they are ‘sexually harassed’ have no complaints. The difference between “sexual harassment” and flirting is most often based on the appearance of the “harasser”, and that is just not fair. “

“Men run the industry. Learn from history. Women must be seen and not heard. Short skirts always do the trick at the Statehouse.

“This investigation and the whole story are a fallacy and a farce. Many of these women are ruining men’s lives and careers on the basis of hearsay, and that is unacceptable.

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