Although we do not hear as much about MeToo these days, the seeds of the movement continue to bear fruit. Actress Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame is launching a legal advice hotline for women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace – as long as they live in England or Wales. And the best part? The service is free.
The BBC conducted a survey of around 2,000 people, both men and women, in 2017. The findings flew in the face of the 2010 Equality Act that was passed in order to reduce sexual harassment by making the deviant behavior illegal: about 50 percent of women and 20 percent of men who live in Britain have experienced sexual harassment.
The numbers are even more staggering in the United States, where at least 80 percent of women experience sexual harassment at work. Over 40 percent of men have admitted to the same. Other polls found lower numbers by narrowing the definition of harassment. Either way, it seems workplace harassment is an important issue no matter where one lives.
Watson explained the reasoning behind her decision: “Understanding what your rights are, how you can assert them, and the choices you have, if you’ve experienced harassment, is such a vital part of creating safe workplaces for everyone. This advice line is such a huge development in ensuring that all women are supported, wherever we work.”
Watson knows that the new resource will not end sexual harassment in the workplace, but she hopes that it can provide women with a new tool with which they can combat unwanted advances. Knowledge is a huge part of female empowerment, and the hotline will help women in the United Kingdom learn how to react in these difficult situations.
Deeba Syed of the organization Rights of Women said, “By advising women about their legal options and increasing their understanding of equalities and discrimination law, we will be able to help them make informed choices about next steps, including how to navigate the legal system with confidence.”
The free legal advice hotline will be funded by Time’s Up UK’s Justice and Equality Fund. The UK Fund for Women and Girls will manage the system. Rights of Women is responsible for providing legal advice.
Those who live in the United States can information and other resources about sexual harassment at RAINN. If you are the victim of workplace harassment, then you can sit down with an experienced lawyer to explore legal options.