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#MeToo: Islington residents share their views on sexual harassment

The long list of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein has led to the rise of the global #MeToo campaign on social media. American actress and activist Alyssa Milano called out in a tweet harassment victims around the world to break their silence, fostering a discussion about the treatment of women in different spheres and stressing the importance of speaking out against such violences.

This campaign reached more than five billion people in less than a week.

So, what do Islington residents think about harassment and the importance of speaking out against it? Here are some of the responses they gave.

Tea, 21, a psychology student:

“As we learn in psychology, their [sex assault victims’] confidence is crushed, and they are very scared and emotionally traumatised and stigmatised, and they think that speaking up against it will harm them even more.”

On why it is important to speak out about harassment:

 “It raises awareness, it shows women that they’re not alone, there are other people who support them, and they can find protection. People need to be more involved in that issue because it could save lives.“ 

Brenda, 78, a retired nurse:

“If you don’t, it’ll be another person who’ll have the same problem. If you don’t speak up, it will carry on.”

Brenda also pointed out how some of these things happen within the government itself:  “They need to be exposed; they need to be put into photographs in the press. ‘This is the man, and this is who he abused.“

Marcus, 30, a software engineer:

He said that people are afraid to speak out because “when bad things happen to you, you would rather forget about them and move on. People don’t like to talk about negative experiences. Not everyone is ready or willing to make this sort of a decision.”

He added that there could also be false allegations: “People’s careers are being destroyed just because they are unfairly alleged of doing something.“

Daria, 20, student:

In terms of what the society and masses could do about the situation, she further added: “As a population, we should, first of all, not harass people and not see them as sexual objects. And second of all, when people have been harassed, we should not see them as someone that might have been asking for it. They’re the victims, so we should provide support and let them know that if they’ve been in that situation, we can help them and we’ll stand with them.“

Janine, 31, musician:

Recognising the government’s need to take action, she believes that “specific laws can be placed that could channel people to see things in a specific way with respect to honesty.

“Within society, certain shutters can be put in place with law. Also, I don’t believe in feminism, because there should be equality between men and women. It’s a really touchy issue because sometimes women are forced to be in that specific attitude because they are trying to protect themselves, and naturally they put up walls. Respect and honesty are, for me, the main thing.”

Given the delicate nature of the issues, none of the interviewees felt comfortable giving their full names, which begs the question, is it merely the victims who are afraid to speak up about harassment, or is it every one of us?

It is clear that the movement has unified men and women around the globe, leading to an unprecedented show of support and solidarity towards victims of sexual assault. In Alyssa Milano’s own words:

Written by Anay Mridul

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