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Kyrgyz Lawmaker Says She Was Sexually Harassed In Parliament Elevator

Kyrgyz deputy Elvira Surabaldieva (file photo)
Kyrgyz deputy Elvira Surabaldieva (file photo)

BISHKEK -- A Kyrgyz lawmaker says she has been sexually harassed by a male government employee in the parliament building.

Elvira Surabaldieva wrote on Twitter on November 19 that the man tried flirting with her in the parliament's elevator and then he started groping her.

"After learning that the uncontrolled use of hands against a member of parliament might lead to repercussions, he stated that he thought I was an ordinary employee of the White House [the building housing Kyrgyz government and the parliament]," Surabaldieva wrote.

Surabaldieva told RFE/RL that she was shocked when the man tried to grope her.

"I did not have my lawmaker badge today. It looks like he was a middle-ranked official from a state entity who visited the parliament. If I pursue the matter, people might say that 'a lawmaker has no problems more important to tackle than this,'" Surabaldieva said.

Women across the former Soviet Union often say they are routinely the targets of harassment in the workplace but can do little to prevent it, with their protests frequently falling on deaf ears.

Earlier this year in March, when three female journalists accused powerful Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky of sexual harassment, the speaker of the Russian State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, suggested that female journalists who report from the legislature should change their jobs if they can't cope with the behavior of lawmakers.