Victims of sexual harassment should be helped to report cases and perpetrators should face sanctions, according to the European Parliament.

Women’s Rights MEPs on July 10 adopted (21 votes in favour, 0 against, 5 abstentions) a draft report proposing measures to combat mobbing and sexual harassment in the EU.

Criticising the fact that laws and the definitions in this area vary across member states, the MEPs called on the European Commission to propose a directive against all forms of violence against women (VAW), including updated common definitions and legal standards that treat it as a crime.

What is more, MEPs called on all political parties to tackle sexual harassment notably by revising party rules to introduce a zero-tolerance policy and sanctions for perpetrators. They also asked Brussels to come up with a new definition of “public space”, reflecting  evolving communication technologies and the rise of ”virtual” public spaces such as social networks and websites, which have created more possibilities for harassment and violence at every level of society.

“With this report we ask the EU Commission to act at European level, starting by proposing a clear legal definition of what sexual harassment is, stressing educational strategies and tackling the dramatic phenomenon of online harassment,” said EP rapporteur Pina Picierno (S&D, IT). “Failing to do so would mean ’tolerating’ mobbing and harassment and leaving women even more alone.”

The report will be put to a vote in plenary during the September session in Strasbourg.