A number of female British politicians have revealed their experiences of sexual assault and harassment in an attempt to encourage other women to speak out.
Labour MPs Jess Phillips and Mary Creagh, Conservative MP Theresa Villiers and Tory Baroness Anne Jenkin spoke out in the hope of encouraging other victims to open up about their experiences.
It comes after the Harvey Weinstein scandal prompted widespread debate about the prevalence of sexual assault. Mr Weinstein, a major Hollywood producer, has been accused of numerous assaults against multiple women over many years.
Ms Phillips, the MP for Birmingham Yardley, recalled how she was assaulted by her boss while working in a bar in her twenties.
She told the Evening Standard: “I was working in a bar and I remember going to a party and we went back to someone’s house and my boss was there. I had fallen asleep on the sofa and when I woke up he was undoing my belt and trying to get into my trousers. I was absolutely paralysed with fear. He was loads older than me — maybe 25 years older.
“Someone else came in the room and dragged him off me. Then I went back to work the next day ... it’s hard to comprehend that these things are happening until after the event.
“For most women you can look back and say ‘I wish I had told the police’, but knowing what I know in working in sexual violence services I doubt they would have been able to do something.”
She also told how a man had groped her in a bar in France when she was 19 or 20.
She said: “A young group of lads were talking to us and flirting with us. We all had boyfriends and we said we weren’t interested in them and then one of them grabbed me and put me up against a wall and felt my vagina.
“I spat in his face and I slapped him. I was older then and I’m a relatively vocal human being anyway and I was thrown out of the bar. When we left that group just laughed at us. That was proper sexual assault.”
Ms Creagh said she was attacked in her primary school playground when she was just seven. She said: “I had my underwear torn off during a game of kiss chase and was sexually assaulted by about 12 boys. They were older than me, about ten or 11 years old.
She was also groped by her local priest and had a teacher try to kiss her after giving her a lift home.
Ms Creagh said: “Women of my generation and older have suffered an extraordinary amount of abuse from an astonishing array of institutions, churches and schools, and for boys.”
Ms Villiers, the former Northern Ireland Secretary, said she had been the victim of attempted assault during a Conservative Party event.
She said: “I recall one instance in the late Nineties when I was a candidate for the European elections and attended a Conservative function.
“As I was leaving at the end of the evening after having made my speech, I had to fend off some groping hands from one of the event organisers.”
Baroness Jenkin said that, when she first worked in Parliament as a young secretary, an MP had attempted to stroke her neck while she was driving.
“I was swerving all over the road,” she said. “Men used to hit on you all the time.”
Other female MPs, including Maria Miller, the former Culture Secretary, and Dawn Butler, the Shadow Equalities Minister, have previously spoken out about abuse they have suffered.