I won't be defined by the grubby behaviour of men, says women's minister Victoria Atkins

Sophia Sleigh
Women's minister Victoria Atkins said she had experienced a "range of behaviours" she found uncomfortable and upsetting: PA Archive/PA Images

Women's minister Victoria Atkins today revealed she had suffered sexual harassment at work, saying: “I’m not going to be defined by the grubby behaviour of men.”

The Tory MP said she had experienced a “range of behaviours” she found uncomfortable and upsetting.

She told BBC News: “I have suffered sexual harassment. I’m not going to be drawn on the details because I’m not going to be defined by the grubby behaviour of the men that behaved like that towards me.

“I’ve worked in many workplaces and I suspect like many people I have seen a range of behaviours.

“Some were the sorts of behaviours you cannot quite brush off but take as part of growing up and adult life. But some behaviours that are also quite uncomfortable and did upset me.”

She said she had a great deal of sympathy and empathy for people across the country who have suffered sexual harassment, adding: “We want to ensure that all parts of our country are enjoying the same sorts of opportunities.”

Ms Atkins also urged victims of sexual harassment to share their stories as part of one of the largest surveys of its kind.

The Government has sent surveys to 12,000 people to find out how many people are affected by sexual harassment.

It is part of a package of commitments to tackle sexual harassment at work, including a new statutory code of practice for employers.

Ms Atkins defined sexual harassment as behaviours of a sexual nature that intimidate, distress or humiliate the person to whom it is directed.

She added: “This is not a debate about wolf whistling or whatever — we have 15 categories of behaviour that are serious.”

Ms Atkins was also asked about Crystal Palace’s woman goalkeeper Lucy Gillett who said she was subjected to sexist abuse during Sunday’s Championship game at Coventry United.

The athlete alleged men in the crowd called on the referee to “check the gender” of several Palace players.

Ms Atkins added: “That is her workplace. The FA or referees should have acted on it.

“She and others are entitled to not have to put up with that sort of abuse. It’s just not on.”