EU agency hit with sexual harassment allegations

The European Institute for Gender Equality has become the latest organization accused of mishandling harassment complaints, thus allowing sexual misconduct to go unpunished.

Daiva Repeckaite
Daiva Repeckaite NewsMavens, Malta
EU agency hit with sexual harassment allegations - NewsMavens
Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Few had expected this MeToo moment.

The Vilnius-based organization is accused of victimizing women twice -- once by allowing men to harass female co-workers and then by not treating their complaints seriously.

The agency's director didn't help matters when she warned against agendas by "militant feminist groups" and attributed some of the problems to "cultural misunderstandings," according to Lithuanian news agency BNS. That raised eyebrows among those who look up to the EIGE as the last agency that would blame victims or dismiss their complaints.

It's unclear what led to the predatory culture at the EIGE. Perhaps, as the director's comments suggest, it was an attempt to shed its feminist reputation, to be inclusive and have a gender-balanced team. Unfortunately, some of the men allowed to join that team may have damaged its reputation for years to come.

Details from the story:

  • Past and current trainees and staff at the European Institute for Gender Equality say male colleagues sent them intimidating messages, stalked them and solicited sex in exchange for career advantages for years.
  • Formal misconduct complaints were filed in 2014 against three male staffers. Two were upheld and resulted in departures from the agency. The third was found to have misused work time to pursue a colleague.
  • However, a comparison of EIGE's staff page between early 2014 and early 2016 show the disappearance of only one man's name from the staff list. 
  • An audit of the agency’s gender equality record, obtained by POLITICO, found that the issue of sexual harassment was “a source of animosity and discomfort among staff.”
  • Former and current staff say they have reported additional cases of intimidation, gender-based bullying and "contempt for feminism."
  • Four former employees told POLITICO they complained about sexism in the office to managers and at staff meetings, but that the reaction was tepid.
  • EIGE says it has a policy of “zero tolerance” of sexual harassment, but implementation depends on management's will.
inbox_large_illu Created with Sketch.
Tired of the news media’s prevailing male perspective? We are too.

Get our newsletters composed exclusively by female journalists from all over Europe.

WITH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM:
SUPPORTED BY:

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

STRATEGIC PARTNERS:
NewsMavens
NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
CORE TEAM
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy
System.Threading.Tasks.Task`1[System.Threading.Tasks.VoidTaskResult];