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Screen Women Demand End to Sexual Harassment at Work

March 2018

Screen Women Demand End to Sexual Harassment at Work

Two forums of women in the screen industry in Auckland and Wellington this week have called for sexual harassment to end in their workplaces.

"The Screen Women’s Action Group (SWAG) held the forums to ‘break the silence’ around this issue, and we found a profound sense of frustration that the current policies are ineffective," says SWAG spokespersn Emma Slade.

“There was a lot of anger and a lot of pain, but there were also a lot of fantastic constructive ideas for industry-specific initiatives that would make difference."

The meetings heard from women across the industry that unacceptable behaviours - from creepy comments and jokes through to sexual assault were part of a culture that must be changed.

‘Pieces of paper and clauses in contracts have failed to stop sexual harassment. We need a raft of initiatives to deal with it before it happens, when it happens and after it happens.

Many industry women didn’t know the law or their rights. But even when they were told, the power structures in place are huge deterrents for anyone taking wanting to take action except against the most criminal end of offending.

Women asked us how do they stop the smaller stuff, the constant innuendo, the pornographic images, and the colleague who gets “handsy”? We think it requires an awareness campaign that helps people understand exactly what sexual harassment is and how damaging it is. “ Emma Slade says

“:This is about being safe at work,up until now complaining about sexual harassment has been risky in terms of no clear processes and the risk of women being blacklisted. Solutions to change the culture and prevent sexual harassment suggested at the meeting included robust education for everyone, sexual harassment being part of all health and safety briefings on film sets, sexual harassment officers trained in supporting safe behaviour, and independent specialists to investigate complaints and awareness campaigns to change attitudes.”

A snapshot survey SWAG is running alongside their forums has shown so far that 66% of respondents have encountered sexual harassment usually by a person senior to them at work.

" We will be writing up the recommendations from the forums and expect swift, united and coherent action from industry leadership to implement widespread change.” said Emma Slade

‘Thirty years ago people didn’t think it would be possible to make our workplaces smoke-free. There was a lot of gnashing of teeth over that too, but look how successful it’s been. We can begin the process now to change attitudes to make our workplaces sexual harassment free.’


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