Last week, it was reported that 23 of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers have reached a financial settlement. At the moment, we understand that the settlement will include a Victims Fund, to be administered by US courts, and available for survivors internationally. This offers some recognition of the alleged abuse endured. But the civil system can only deal with numbers, which can never compensate anyone for their pain and suffering. Crucially, this settlement doesn’t help women to be believed when they come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and worse. And Weinstein is under no requirement to admit any responsibility.
This story isn't over, as early next year, Weinstein is due in a criminal court to face charges of rape and assault and he is still the subject of an ongoing British investigation. The law can only play a part in tackling harassment, though. Ultimately what will bring abuse to an end is businesses ensuring that the workplace is safe for women to be believed and to be supported. This is the focus of our work at TIME’S UP both here in the UK, and in the US – to ensure that no woman ever suffers abuse in the workplace in the first place. We want responsibility to lie with companies so that there are proper safeguards in place for employees as well as pay parity between the sexes.
We need to believe women. This doesn’t just mean being outraged when women aren’t believed, but acting on our commitment to believe.
Weinstein has, since the settlement was announced, claimed, astonishingly, that ‘my work promoting women has been forgotten’ but at TIME’S UP UK, we’re doing real work to promote women at work while fighting for their safety. As part of a global movement to seek women’s safety and equality, we work with partner companies and studios to champion guidelines on preventing bullying and harassment that we share across all sorts of industries. We also demand that intimacy coaches are present on film sets during nude scenes and we are pushing for more women directors. And though the Golden Globes’ all-male shortlist for best director has disappointed in the latter regard, production companies like Working Title are committing to using more and more women directors. Look out in 2020 for Marjane Satrapi’s Radioactive starring Rosamund Pike as Marie Curie; Jane Austen’s Emma directed by Autumn de Wilde and starring Anya Taylor-Joy; and Nisha Ganatra’s Covers, starring Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Women directors create more diverse crews on set and this impacts the stories these films tell, and the way culture is shaped. And outside of the film, media and theatre industries, we help fund a free anonymous legal advice line for women being sexually harassed in the workplace, any workplace.
The result is that culture is changing, bit by bit. Some people say that in the time since #MeToo, not enough has happened, but this is a constant movement. Heading into 2020 there’s going to be a lot more noise around sexual harassment in the workplace, especially as Weinstein’s criminal trial begins. One of the most important things we’ve learned from women speaking out about his conduct (he denies all allegations of non-consensual sex), is that we need to believe women.
This doesn’t just mean being outraged when women aren’t believed, but acting on our commitment to believe. And there’s plenty that you can do to help this cause. As well as asking new employers what their processes are for sexual harassment and bullying complaints – which gets people thinking about the issue, at the very least – you can contribute to TIME’S UP UK’s fund. You can also support other women activists by lending your support to their campaigns.
Grazia’s campaignto ban the ‘rough sex’ defence that’s so often used by men in court charged with women’s murder is important. The notion that rough sex can equate to consent to murder is abhorrent and reflects a wider view of how violence against women can be normalised. TIME’S UP UK supports this campaign and we’re also going to look at how the film and media industry can challenge the perceptions that lead to this sort of victim-blaming.
There is no one simple solution that will end violence against women, there is no one campaign that can solve this, it’s about how we continue to work together, and don’t lose heart.
In the run up to Weinstein’s criminal trial, TIME’S UP Foundation has launched a petition support to show survivors that millions are behind them, and they’re urging every one of their supporters to add their name.