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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Women in House don black to say no to sexual harassment

Male legislator accused of sexual harassment DURING anti-sexual harassment training.

Many female members of the House of Representatives donned black for session Tuesday in solidarity with the Time’s Up movement and to make a united statement against sexual harassment.

The action was organized by Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (D-Dist. 5, Providence) Monday, the day after many attendees at the Golden Globes also donned black for the same reasons.

Time’s Up is a movement launched last week by 300 women in the entertainment industry to fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and in blue-collar industries nationwide.

Representative Ranglin-Vassell said the members plan to continue wearing black on Tuesdays at least through February to maintain the focus on addressing sexual harassment, an issue that gained traction worldwide this fall as news of sexual harassment by power brokers in the entertainment industry emboldened women from all walks of life to share their stories of sexual harassment.

She said she hopes for even greater participation in the future, since this week’s action was hastily arranged by word-of-mouth among the female representatives.

“As leaders, we owe it to our constituents to be outspoken advocates for the changes that need to be made in our society,” said Representative Ranglin-Vassell. “As women, we owe it to ourselves, our families and the women who came before us and will come in the future to say, ‘No more. We will not accept disrespect or mistreatment of women anywhere.’”

Said Rep. Kathleen Fogarty (D-Dist.35, South Kingstown),” We wear black to support the Time’s Up movement. As leaders, we support sexual harassment prevention. We want to see the end of pay disparity between men and women. We reject discrimination in all fields of work.”

Rep. Katharine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) added, “I wore black to show solidarity to those women and men who have been victims of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault in the workplace. The first step in solving a problem is acknowledging that there is an issue. We need to bring awareness to this problem so that we can work together to ensure that no person ever has to say ‘me too’ again.”

Unfortunately, the General Assembly’s voluntary training program on sexual harassment was marred by a charge by Rep. Moira Walsh (D-Providence) that Rep. Ramon Perez seemed to misunderstand the purpose of the session.

Image result for state rep ramon perez RI

GoLocal reports that Walsh said Perez asked "How do you do that exactly?" during discussion about why it is not acceptable to ask for sexual favors. Walsh noted that Perez’ remarks were captured on video of the program.

A Republican representing parts of Providence and Johnston, Perez has had problems with his sexual conduct in the past.

Last June, Perez took flak for handing out a document that contained copies of a graphic showing pornographic topics in the background.

Perez find himself on defense, telling the Providence Journal on June 13 that “I am not a pervert.”