It is a great beginning to the New Year. Prominent women and men in Hollywood and London have launched a movement to end sexual harassment in the workplace and society. They aim to challenge every act of sexual harassment and abuse that comes to light. It is called “Time’s Up.”
Months ago, it began with the hash tag “MeToo” tag that encouraged abused women no matter their station in life to speak out and challenge their abusers. It is now a defining moment in history. Since the human race began, women were always considered by men to be inferior, the so-called weaker sex, which was a way to establish, falsely of course, that they somehow had lesser rights than men and were expected to be docile and subservient. It gave permission for the males to dominate them and to do much as they pleased especially when they were in positions of ascendency and power over the women.
The women suffered and endured the humiliation and harassment and feared if they complained they would be further discriminated against, harassed and even fired from their job or their careers would be stymied. The slogan was, it seems, “play along or pay the price.”
Now no more will western women have to “play-along” and cover up their anguish, intimidation and feelings of humiliation and being exploited and used as the play things of abusive men. The “Time’s Up” group is composed of well-known producers, actresses, writers and studio executives. The action has raised as much as US $13 million for legal cases against individuals who are accused of harassment or companies who allow or ignore such harassment in the workplace.
The legal fund will help the poorer women and men and youth in low-paid jobs who are sexually molested and abused and are afraid and unable to take legal action due to the high costs. They are usually afraid to speak out and are likely to lose their employment. But the movement has a strong following and is there to help everyone in need.
The “Time’s Up” is to challenge the gross indecency and silence that surrounds the culture of sexual harassment. It has gone unchallenged for centuries. It’s a defining moment in the age of women’s freedom. The “Time’s Up” movement published a full-page letter in The New York Times and the Spanish newspaper La Opinion to declare that “Time’s Up” for the abusers and they will be challenged, exposed, and forced to step down from their preeminent pedestals of power.
One of the gagging techniques the abusive men used was to get the victims to take money and sign a non-disclosure agreement and threatened them. This ensured the silence of the victims. This is now being targeted to totally discredit the practice and have it banned.
Those abused are encouraged to never to sign anything but to seek the help of “Time’s Up.” It is an encouraging and historical time for the rights of women to be vindicated and protected and justice be done and be seen by all to be done. Thousands of men prone to commit acts of lasciviousness, sexual abuse and harassment can quake in their boots if this really takes off. Not only is the name-and-shame campaign empowering women to take a stand and point their accusing finger but it is backed up with legal action.
Others take a more subtle approach to their empowerment and survival.
Are women smarter than men? You would imagine that they are still subservient to men in Afghanistan as some of the women are seen to walk five meters or more behind their husbands or male guardians. Normally it is a humiliation. I read somewhere the following story: A woman’s rights advocate visiting her friend in Afghanistan said, “After all this struggle for equality of women, you still walk behind your husband.” “We are much smarter,” the woman replied. “How is that so?” the perplexed advocate asked. The woman smiled and looked at the advocate and said one word. “Landmines.”
So the day is fast approaching when there will be some change in the Western world when women speak out for their rights and expose the harassment and abuse they endured. But it will take a long time for it to enter the mainstream of other cultures and change them forever. But change comes slowly like a river eating its way through a canyon. We have to take legal action and enforce the rule of law to protect women and children.
Preda Foundation has been promoting and supporting the new proposed law in Ireland. It will be presented soon in the Irish parliament, sponsored by Maureen O’Sullivan TD and other parliamentarians that will effectively curb the travel to foreign developing countries of convicted pedophiles. In Australia, where such a law is in place, it was revealed that as many as 800 convicted pedophiles travelled to poor countries before it was enacted.
These are countries where the children are vulnerable, poor and easily available for abusers and law enforcement is weak. But stopping them may indeed be the only way to protect the children. Who could be against such a law? We need the same for the UK and the EU. Ireland can give the lead and then it will be a much safer world for children.
Rev. Shay Cullen is a co-founder of www.preda.org -- a nonprofit dedicated to protecting children.