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Ohio Democratic representative says staffers' clothing is 'invitation' for sexual harassment

Posted at 3:35 PM, Dec 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-14 17:22:21-05

Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur has told members of her caucus that revealing clothes worn by staffers and some members of Congress are an "invitation" for sexual harassment.

Kaptur's remarks were first reported by Politico after a private Democratic caucus meeting on Wednesday. The news site reported that Kaptur, the longest-serving member in the Ohio delegation, mentioned that she'd seen a member the day before with cleavage so deep "it was down to the floor."

Kaptur subsequently issued a statement that said her office became a "refuge" for mistreated female staffers when she was first elected. She says it's something she carries "to this day" and brought it up to during the caucus meeting.

Her statement added that "under no circumstances" is it the victim's fault if they're harassed, but she hopes stricter dress codes in Congress will protect women from this pervasive problem.

YWCA Greater Cleveland President/CEO Margaret Mitchell responded to Kaptur's controversial comments. She said Kaptur's comments were outdated and missing the point.

"We work with women on a regular basis through our Women's Leadership Institute to give detailed tools around how to overcome the glass ceiling," she said. "The women's clothing is not is not a precursor to her being sexually harassed. That is something that is about power."

Mitchell said there are many gray lines when it comes to harassment, and victims should always make a record of what happened, the time and date of the incident, no matter how small, then report it immediately.