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February 26, 2018 | by  | in News |
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2017 Big Year for Sexual Assault Allegations

CW: sexual assault and harassment

2017 was a year of unprecedented publicity for people coming forward with their stories of sexual harassment and assault. Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2017 – the ‘Silence Breakers’ – are people who publicly disclosed their experiences of sexual harassment, and the perpetrators of that harassment, to the media.

The ‘Silence Breakers’ were people whose sexual harassment and assault, and the subsequent disclosure of such, were defined by a power imbalance between themselves and the perpetrators. These perpetrators tended to be men of power, public esteem, and authority, epitomized in the case of Harvey Weinstein.

The testimonies of the ‘Silence Breakers’ have triggered a movement to publicly condemn sexual assault and harassment, facilitating both the #timesup campaign, with which celebrities are taking a stance against apparent immunity afforded to abusers in their respective industries, and the #metoo hashtag, which demonstrates the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in society at large.

In New Zealand the #timesup hashtag has targeted law firm giant Russell McVeagh, amid allegations of summer clerks being sexually harassed by senior staff during their employment at the firm. A statement released by Russell McVeagh on 15 February 2018 read:

“Over two years ago we received serious allegations related to incidents in Wellington. Where allegations were made, we immediately conducted a full internal investigation at the time, and initiated a formal process. Those who were the subject of the allegations left the firm following the investigation. Out of respect for the privacy of the women involved, we have no further details to share.”

VUWSA has recently teamed up with various groups around Wellington to create a new poster campaign called “Don’t Guess the Yes”, which aims to promote consent around Wellington.

VUWSA is looking to amplify your voice about sexual harassment, sexual assault, consent, and rape culture. Contact Beth at welfare@vuwsa.org.nz, if you want to volunteer to help.

If you need support, contact:

Wellington Sexual Abuse Help Foundation — 04 499 7530; Crisis line 04 499 7532

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