Dear Mark McDonald,
Today is the day you go back to work after facing sexual harassment allegations.
You are no longer a government minister, and have left your political party, but you still have your very comfortable job as a MSP. You will be paid extremely well and still have the benefits that being a politician brings.
After four months, you still have the audacity to continue your career as a politician. After four months you have not realised what you have done.
Sexual harassment and abuse is no easy subject, but in recent months it is clear that it is a huge issue in our society. Day after day there are new cases coming forward as victims find the strength to tell their stories.
You, Mr McDonald, have caused unexplainable pain. There are no words to describe the emotions and trauma that a person goes through after being sexually harassed. No words to describe the crippling anxiety and self doubt, the constant paranoia and the fear of being alone.
As a member of parliament, you hold the utmost power in our country, and you have abused that power. Voters placed their trust within you and you have let them, and the rest of the country, down. Our government should be the ones setting examples within society, and if after these allegations you still stay in power, what message does that portray? That men can continue to harass and abuse women without facing the consequences? That while the victim’s life has changed forever yours continues almost like normal? We see this happening time and time again and is the reason so many women don’t report the abuse they have faced. I can say personally it is the reason I never reported my abuse.
I am a proud Scot and want to see my country make a stand against this behaviour. We should be a country that does not tolerate sexual harassment and abuse. We should be an equal society where all our citizens are treated with the utmost respect and dignity. In Scotland 1 in 3 women will face sexual abuse in her lifetime. Why are we still letting this happen? We need the people in power to demonstrate that this behaviour will never be tolerated.
So, why do you think it is morally acceptable to return to work today? Although you resigned as a government minister, do you really think you should continue as a MSP? You said in the press yesterday that you know many people will want nothing to do with you, and you have been placed in an office in the basement. Does that not just show how people feel about you? You may think in yourself you have changed, but that means nothing. Your actions have altered another human beings life. Your actions will live on in that person for the rest of their life. But your actions have also had an impact on all the victims in the country. We have had to see this news story play out in front of us while we are reminded of our own stories. For me, it reminds me that while I suffered, my abuser went back to his normal life. Years later I still feel the pain of what happened, and stories like this will continue to add to that pain.
Not only are you going back to work, but you are going back to the building where these women work. These women now have the added pain of going to work knowing that their harasser is in the same building as them. Put yourself in their shoes. Can you even begin to imagine the terror of being in that situation. The past four months they have been faced with investigations and the press, and now you are returning to their workplace. It disgusts me to think that you find that “morally justified”.
I want you to reconsider your return to work. You need to own up to your actions and leave the parliament with immediate effect. As a citizen, and as a survivor, I can not stand by and watch people like you remain in power in our Scottish Parliament.
A survivor, fighter and heartbroken citizen.