The Rennard allegations have put Westminster's sexual politics in the spotlight. So how bad is it? Women who know tell of boozy conferences, wandering hands and the obstacles to complaining.

Oona King

Former Labour MP, now a Labour peer

When we arrived in 1997, it was institutionally sexist. When women would stand up in the chamber, men on the other side would be shouting "Melons! Melons!" while making hand gestures – that's how juvenile it was.

Immigration is a controversial subject, shrouded in myth. Let’s start with what we know is true:

- first that women, like men, are persecuted
- second, unlike men, their gender now carries the burden of conflict more than at any time in the past: a recent report states that in modern war zones, those most likely to die or be injured are no longer combatants; they are civilians and the modern weapon of choice is sexual violence. I’ve seen this for myself in the DRC -and what I have seen in places like the DRC shocks me to this day.