As we write this statement, 38 women have come forward and accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault.
As this story unfolds, we are reminded of the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault across nearly every industry, be it Hollywood, tech, advertising, finance, or education, and that for every person who is brave enough to come forward about their experience, there are countless others whose stories we may never hear. We applaud the women who have spoken publicly about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault for their bravery, and we stand with those who may still struggle finding their voice and seeking help.
Unfortunately, we exist within a system that strongly discourages victims of sexual harassment and assault from coming forward and most often lets predators like Harvey Weinstein go unpunished. The decision not to prosecute Weinstein for sex crime charges is the latest illustration of this systemic problem. We find this lack of action particularly appalling as public opinion and attitudes towards sexual harassment and assault are intrinsically tied to the way the perpetrators are prosecuted.
We believe it is time to end this culture of fear, intimidation and inaction that eclipses the voices of those whose lives have been impacted by sexual harassment and assault.
We are now witnessing a powerful movement of victims of sexual harassment and assault speaking out and reclaiming power over their predators, and we must harness this momentum to engage in a truly meaningful conversation about sexual abuse.
We must establish enabling environments where victims are empowered to share their experiences and create proper channels to investigate their allegations, particularly within workplaces.
We must no longer tolerate silence or complacency, especially when faced with narratives that seek to undermine the alleged victim and downplay the responsibility of the perpetrator.
We also call upon our representatives and leaders in Washington to preserve vital federal guidance such as the Title IX policy and the programs guaranteed under the Violence Against Women Act.
KT Sagona & Floriane Borel
Co-Chairs, Gender Equity Taskforce
Manhattan Young Democrats