Ongoing efforts to eradicate sexual harassment on Capitol Hill amid swarm of allegations

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Shockwaves are being sent around Capitol Hill as sexual harassment charges roll in against lawmakers. With calls for multiple members of Congress to resign, the latest for Senator Al Franken (D-MN), questions remain as to how this culture was cultivated. Senator John Thune (R-SD) says there should be no tolerance anywhere for such behavior. He says something has to change.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) says punishing people guilty of sexual harassment will serve as a deterrent for others on Capitol Hill and around the country.

“There is absolutely no place for that. It is unacceptable and we can’t tolerate it,” said Thune.

Thune says his office has zero tolerance for this conduct. He says he does not think it is part of the culture on Capitol Hill, but as more allegations surface, Thune says guilty parties need to be held accountable.

“Hopefully that will become the kind of deterrent that will prevent those types of stories from happening again in the future,” said Thune.

Thune says there are Senate-wide sexual harassment policies under consideration rather than leaving it up to each office. He says when people join his staff they are made aware of the consequences.

“Whether it’s the Capitol Hill complex or whether it’s the other work environments across this country, as a culture, as a society, we need to make a very firm statement that this sort of behavior is unacceptable,” said Thune.

Some are looking for more extensive answers. People are asking what it is going to take to eradicate this behavior from everyday life.

“It’s going to take a few years to achieve the cultural shift,” said Dr. Gary Barker from Promundo, a group promoting gender equality and violence prevention.

He says this cultural shift can be achieved when society rethinks manhood and gender equality takes the spotlight. Barker says he is not surprised by the stories from Capitol Hill.

“Congress reflects the rest of us. It’d be nice if we could point a finger and say somehow they’re different. This is what workplaces unfortunately look like,” said Barker.

There’s movement on Capitol Hill to make sexual harassment training mandatory for all offices.

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