Iratxe García Pérez, an MEP from Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE), has called on the European Parliament to sanction Janusz Korwin-Mikke, a radical right-winger from Poland who leads a marginal party, either with a hefty fine or temporary suspension.
Last week he addressed the European Parliament and said: “Of course women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent. They must earn less, that's all.”
Garcia Perez jumped to her feet and with lots of pointing, angrily replied: “Look, according to your theory, I should not have the right to be here, as a member of this parliament.
“And I know it hurts you, I know it hurts and worries you, that today women can sit in this house and represent European citizens with the same rights as you.
“I am here to defend all European women from men like you.”
In an interview published on International Women’s Day García said that hearing such views expressed in the EU parliament was shocking.
“This kind of opinion, when heard in a bar or in a park is bad enough but we’ve got more used to it. But when you hear an MP saying these things in a chamber of representatives of the people, it is outrageous,” she told Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.
“There are those who question the need to mark days like March 8th (International Women’s Day) or continue with quotas or equality policies. Well this is a great example to show that we still need to continue to push for equality.”
She believes it is important for the EU to impose a penalty on Korwin-Mikke, at the very least to make an example of him.
“They have to show that not he nor any other MEP can show such a lack of respect and impinge fundamental rights and get away with it scot free. Equality is one of the principal, fundamental rights of the EU and can’t be attacked with declarations like the one from this MEP.”
EU authorities have confirmed that an investigation has been opened under rules specifying that members must show mutual respect and refrain from “defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior.”