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Swiss MPs given ‘good conduct guide' following sexual harassment case

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The Swiss parliament. Photo: Peter Schneider/AFP
10:50 CET+01:00
Do Swiss MPs know the difference between flirting and sexual harassment? If they didn't, they do now.
According to Le Matin, all MPs were on Wednesday given a ‘good conduct guide’ reminding them of what is and what isn’t acceptable. 
 
It was issued by a federal delegation as part of an effort to crack down on sexual harassment in parliament following the recent revelations surrounding MP Yannick Buttet, who was accused of acting inappropriately with colleagues.
 
Specifically, the guide outlines the difference between flirting and sexual harassment, says the paper.
 
Flirting, according to the guide, evolves in a reciprocal manner and is mutually desired, constructive, respects personal boundaries, boosts self-esteem and is a source of joy.
 
Sexual harassment, however, involves a one-sided approach that is unwanted by the other person, is degrading, annoying, harms self-esteem and violates personal boundaries.
 
The guide may seem be stating the obvious, “but certain people need to be reminded,” senator Géraldine Savary told Le Matin. “It’s like reminding people that eating apples is good for your health. We needed to restate these things for everyone. That said, 90 percent of men behave correctly,” she said.
 
In addition to the guide, a special external body will be established to fight against sexual harassment in parliament.
 
From January 1st MPs affected by sexual harassment will be able to seek help and guidance, confidentially, either over the phone or in person in Bern and Zurich, reported news agency ATS.
 
MP Mathias Reynard welcomed the move, telling Le Matin it “shows that parliament is taking the problem seriously and will fight against sexism and sexual harassment”.
 
But more must be done to address sexual harassment both within parliament and generally, he said.
 
Last week MP Yannick Buttet resigned as vice-president of the Christian-Democrat Party and took sick leave from his duties in parliament after newspaper Le Temps revealed he faced a criminal complaint over his behaviour towards a female colleague with whom he had had an affair. 
 
The paper also alleged that Buttet had acted inappropriately with several other women – journalists and politicians – in the course of his political activities in Bern. 
 
Buttet apologized to his wife “and those who have been hurt by my inappropriate behaviour, including my party colleagues”. 
 
He would seek treatment for alcoholism before discussing his future in politics, he said.
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