(CBS) — Women elected officials dressed in black gathered at Chicago City Hall to lend their voice to the “#MeToo” movement.
But does the city’s anti-harassment law go far enough?
Forty-third Ward Ald. Michele Smith says her introduction to sexual harassment came at age 19, in a meeting with her college president in upstate New York.
“The president of my university said to me, ‘I’m sure things would be much better if you’d come and sit on my lap. And then he invited me to his home when his wife wasn’t there.”
Fourth Ward Ald. Pat Dowell says she was harassed by a superior while working for former Mayor Eugene Sawyer.
“It comes in the form of unwelcome comments about how you look, about your body shape, or going out to lunch or having a drink after work, those kinds of things,” Dowell says.
She didn’t report it. But now, Dowell and others public office are urging women to do just that.
“We have to make sure this isn’t just a moment for cameras or for hashtags,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx says.
“Many of us have #MeToo stories,” said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who chairs the city council’s Womens Caucus.
A new law passed by the Chicago City Council finally takes effect next month, establishing sexual harassment training and a new city hotline to report violations.
“We still have to wait for the end of February before individuals can come forward and file a complaint against an alderman, the treasurer or the mayor,” explains Faisal Khan, former council inspector general.
Khan says the law doesn’t hold the staffs of public officials accountable and complaints against aldermen can’t be anonymous.
“These ambiguities need to be cleared up immediately for this law to be effective,” Khan says.