Dutch government appoints commissioner to tackle #MeToo issues

THE HAGUE – The Dutch government on Tuesday appointed a commissioner to tackle sexual abuse and bullying, after recent high-profile #MeToo cases shocked the European Union nation.

In recent weeks, popular talent show ‘The Voice of Holland’ has been taken off the air amid complaints of unwanted behavior ranging from sexually tinged WhatsApp messages to an allegation of rape involving presenters. On Sunday, a senior manager at the country’s biggest football club resigned and apologized for what the club called a “series of inappropriate messages” sent to several female colleagues.

“Recent incidents in the world of sports and television show us that the reason for the #MeToo movement in our country is still alive. This must change,” said Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf.

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“We are working on a culture change where no one looks the other way and where people hold each other accountable for bad behavior. Because every victim of sexually transgressive behavior and sexual violence is one too many,” he added.

The government has appointed a respected former lawmaker and labor leader, Mariëtte Hamer, for a three-year term as the new commissioner, saying her role is to help develop a national action plan to tackle sexually inappropriate behavior and sexual violence.

The announcement came as Labor Party lawmaker Gijs van Dijk quit parliament after his party said it was launching an independent investigation into several reports about his “undesirable behavior in the private sphere”.

Police said on Monday they had received five complaints of possible criminal behavior and more than 20 reports of “inappropriate behavior and possible sexually transgressive behavior” by people linked to “The Voice of Holland”. Prosecutors and police are studying the five complaints to determine whether to open investigations that could lead to criminal charges.

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On Sunday, Marc Overmars, a former star player turned sports administrator, left Amsterdam football club Ajax and apologized for his actions.

“Certainly for someone in my position, this behavior is unacceptable. I see it now too. But it’s too late. I see no other choice but to leave Ajax,” he said in a statement issued by the club.

Last month, hundreds of people staged a #MeToo protest in Amsterdam to call for more government action to tackle abuse.

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