Hollywood is shaking at its core as more actresses speak up about sexual assaults allegedly done by Harvey Weinstein, a renowned film producer. He has worked with Rose McGowan, Gywneth Paltrow, Kate Beckinsale, Angelina Jolie, and Cara Delevingne, all of whom have come forward to share their stories. These women, among other actresses, claim that the producer made sexual advances to them. Most of their experiences happened in their youth, but it's only now that they had the courage to come forward. Cara, one of the most recent ones to share her story, revealed in an Instagram post the entire scenario that had transpired between her and Harvey.
She then followed up with another post, urging victims like her to speak up if they experience an assault or even feel violated by anyone.
The model-turned-actress writes, "I want women and girls to know that being harassed or abused or raped is NEVER their fault and not talking about it will always cause more damage than speaking the truth. The more we talk about it, the less power we give them."
Women around the world have fallen victims to such crimes but have failed to find the voice to defend themselves. That, in itself, is a tragedy that we subject ourselves to. We're usually crippled with fear or threatened in some way, which prevents us from seeking the justice we deserve. But as Cara has shared, it isn't and will never be the victim's fault. Whatever you wear or how you look is not a form of consent. No means no.
In an already patriarchal society—where women are viewed as lesser beings scaled down into objects of comfort, trophies of delight, and markers of territory—we are in a long and arduous way of continuously proving ourselves, career-wise most especially. And so, to have one's career trajectory manipulated and dangled over us in exchange of bodily gratification is unacceptable. We are not bodies to be enjoyed by others. We are our ownselves, deserving equal respect, basic rights, and fair opportunities.
That said, find the courage to speak up despite the fear. Free yourself from the person who harmed you and regain the power he cost you. Don't let these culprits get away. By staying silent, you allow them to further take advantage of you. You let them feel that what they did is alright, that they can keep taking whatever they fancy despite lack of anyone's consent. But all these would be impossible if no one talks and no one listens. And so, it's important to foster a safe space for women to discuss their encounters, voice their concerns, and above all, regain their self-possession that had been crushed by their abusers.
Anyone can be a victim. And whether they choose to take legal action or to confide in a therapist or trusted friends, it's vital that they aren't dismissed as overreactions or trivial issues. Instead, they need to be able to assert their rights.
In the country, sexual harassment, according to Republic Act 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, is committed by anyone person who has "authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another in a work or training or education environment [who] demands, requests or otherwise requires any sexual favor from the other, regardless of whether the demand, request or requirement for submission is accepted by the object of said Act."
Any form of sexual harassment including (but not limited to) catcalling, malicious touching, lewd insinuations, requests or demands of sexual favors, and any other similar actions are punishable under the Republic Act 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, where offenders may face imprisonment of one to six months, a fine of P10,000 to P20,000 or both. Meanwhile, under the Revised Penal Code on Acts of Lasciviousness, the offender will face imprisonment. You can also reach out to different groups like Gabriela, who advocates for victims of abuse and Cribs Foundation's New Beginnings program for sexually abused minors.
On the other hand, if you find yourself in the middle of an abuse, it is helpful to have presence of mind. If you can't protect or defend yourself from the culprit, use your devices to record or snap a photo of the offender. However, remember that even if you have no tangible proof, don't be afraid to tell someone you trust about what had happened. We assure you that if you say that you said no, we trust your word. If you say you've been violated, we believe you. And if you say you want to take action, we'll stand behind you. You don't have to carry all that weight on your own.