A new study on sexism, harassment and violence against woman reveals almost half of all surveyed female MPs have experienced sexual harassment and sexism while doing their jobs.

It also reveals male MPs were common perpetrators of sexist or humiliating remarks to their female colleagues.

The survey, which recorded responses from 16 of the 46 female MPs in Parliament (35 per cent), has been referred to a wide-ranging report on bullying and harassment in Parliament.

It showed that almost 50 per cent of the female MPs who took part in the survey had been the victim of "psychological violence" – remarks, gestures and images of a sexist or humiliating sexual nature – while serving as an MP.


The study was undertaken as a scoping exercise by the New Zealand chapter of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) to gain statistics on the issue of sexual harassment.

The anonymous survey was distributed to the 24 members of New Zealand's CWP from all sitting political parties with female members.

"They were asked to describe their experiences of harassment, intimidation or violence, the prevalence and culture of such acts or behaviour and the consequences that may have resulted," the report on the survey said.

It found seven of the 16 women, 44 per cent, experienced psychological violence during their time as an MP. The same number had received threats of death, rape, beatings or abduction during their parliamentary career.

Of those seven who experienced psychological violence, six said they had not reported the abuse because either they did not know who to go to for support, they did not want to relive the event, or they simply decided to put up with it.

The survey said male MPs were shown to be common perpetrators of sexist or humiliating remarks.

"Multiple respondents indicated that such comments are prevalent among party colleagues, across parties, as well as in core work environments such as Select Committees."

Co-chairwoman of the New Zealand chapter of the CWP, Louisa Wall, said this result of the survey was "terrible".


She said the survey showed that MPs are not immune to sexual harassment.

"Even though some people may think there is a level of resilience by being a Member of Parliament, the fact is we have a cultural problem in terms of how our male colleagues across society treat their female colleagues."

The survey also showed two of the respondents had reconsidered running for re-election due to these experiences.

"These findings suggest that such behaviour against women parliamentarians affects a significant number of elected officials," the report said.

Speaker Trevor Mallard said the survey's findings had been referred to the Francis Review, an external review of bullying and harassment of Parliamentary staff, where he said it would be considered, including through an interview with the reviewer.