U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Monday that all State Department employees will have to take a mandatory sexual harassment training before June 1, 2018.
“There is no form of disrespect for the individual that I can identify, anything more demeaning than for someone to suffer this kind of treatment,” Tillerson said to a group of U.S. embassy employees in Cairo, Egypt, according to Reuters.
Tillerson, who is on a visiting tour in the Middle East, said the mandatory training was announced to State Department employees last month.
“It’s not OK if you’re seeing it happening and just look away,” he added. “You must do something. You must notify someone. You must step in and intervene.”
His announcement comes just a week after two White House employees resigned in the face of mounting domestic abuse allegations.
On Feb. 7, former White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned after his two ex-wives publicly accused him of verbal, emotional and physical abuse. White House speechwriter David Sorensen also resigned last week after his ex-wife alleged that he physically and emotionally abused her.
Tillerson’s comments stand in stark contrast to President Donald Trump, who remained sympathetic to Porter and noted that the former White House staff secretary has proclaimed his innocence.
“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” Trump tweeted, in an apparent reference to Porter. He added, “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
Trump himself has been accused of sexual misconduct ― ranging from sexual harassment to assault and rape ― by 21 women.
In the last six months, dozens of lawmakers have been accused of sexual misconduct in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) are just a few of many politicians to have announced their resignations in the face of sexual misconduct allegations.
In November, over 200 female employees who have worked in U.S. national security signed an open letter urging their community to “reduce the incidences of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.”
Last week, Congress voted unanimously to explicitly ban sexual relationships between lawmakers and staffers in an effort to curb sexual harassment in the workplace. The legislation also approved the creation of an office providing legal support to staffers reporting sexual harassment, and authorized a separate bill requiring lawmakers who agree to sexual harassment settlements to pay out of their own pockets.