Need to change the culture in New Jersey’s Halls of Power.

National Organization for Women of New Jersey is deeply disturbed by the reports of sexual harassment and assault uncovered in the Star Ledger article, “#MeToo was supposed to fix things. But women in N.J. politics say they’ve been groped, harassed — and worse”, dated December 29, 2019. NOW-NJ commends the authors for exposing the realities faced by women engaged in the New Jersey political arena and salutes the brave women who came forward to tell their stories. NOW-NJ feels strongly that all sexual assault victims, primarily but not exclusively women and girls, deserve justice. That this egregious behavior is taking place in the halls of power in New Jersey is not just unacceptable, but shameful.

It is hardly surprising that in the good-old-boy network of NJ politics, women are constantly facing situations where they must fend off advances or worse. The article may leave the impression that the bad behavior is primarily centered around two annual events but that is not the case. It should be stressed that the issue is systemic, thereby necessitating solutions that will address its pervasive nature.

The fact that women who are the victims of assault often choose not to report is due to a culture of fear and silence. A sense that they will not be believed and that the perpetrators will not be held accountable along with concerns of reprisals that affect their careers, are the root causes. NOW-NJ recognizes this as an issue of economic justice in addition to that of ending violence and discrimination against women.

NOW-NJ is committed to changing this “toxic climate of misogyny, harassment and sexual assault” and therefore welcomes Senator Loretta Weinberg’s announcement of an ad-hoc committee to seek solutions. In holding our legislators, administration and the powers-that-be accountable, groups like NOW-NJ can play a vital role. At the same time, men must be included in the conversation as our male counterparts need to make the commitment as well. Only then will there be real change that addresses the power imbalance that creates this climate.

Download the press release here.