Sexual assault cases rise to forefront

Women are often afraid to speak out about their experiences for it could jeopardize their career or cause harsh criticism. They are told to let it go or to stop dramatizing their experiences.

Although Hill’s case was dismissed under the pretense that it was more important to confirm an African-American male to the Supreme Court than hold men accountable for their unwanted sexual advances, both women and men around the country showed support for her courage to speak out against a common problem.

Recently, The New York Times published an investigation into studio executive Harvey Weinstein. It was discovered that for decades, Weinstein had been accused of sexually harassing women in their 20s to late 40s, despite being a supporter of Hillary Clinton and taking part in a women’s march.

It was recorded that he would often ask women to massage him or vice versa, or watch him shower; he would also recount the number of Hollywood actresses he had slept with. It is astonishing that this “Hollywood secret” has remained a secret for so long.

Executives in power have continued to ignore the accusations against Weinstein and instead made settlements to prevent any unnecessary litigation that could harm the reputation of the Weinstein Company or its employees.

In March 2015, Weinstein had invited Italian model and aspiring actress Ambra Battilana to his Tribeca office to discuss her career opportunities. Within a few hours the model had called the police because Weinstein had grabbed her breasts, asking if they were real, and put his hand up her skirt. However, according to The New York Times, the Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to try the case.

Weinstein made a payment to Battilana, but his lawyers made it clear that the settlement was a way to make peace, not an acknowledgment of the accusation.

Later, when board members of the Weinstein Company were pressuring Weinstein about the truth of the allegations, Weinstein rebutted by insisting that the women had set him up.

The actress Alyssa Milano instigated the hashtag #MeToo, which has trended across social media over the last couple of weeks to unite all sexual harassment victims, both male and female. One notable participant in the campaign, former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney, shared her experiences of sexual harassment perpetrated by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

She claimed that the harassment started when she was 13 and continued until she left the sport at age 16.

Maroney divulged to CNN that Nassar would find any opportunity to “treat” her. Maroney’s scariest memory is when Nassar gave her a sleeping pill on a flight to Tokyo and she woke up in his hotel room with only him inside.

Afterward, dozens of women came forth about Nassar’s sexual misconduct. Rachael Denhollander, a former gymnast with USA Gymnastics, testified in court that Nassar had sexually abused her during five doctor’s visits in 2000.

According to CNN, “Denhollander said that Nassar put two fingers in her vagina at her first visit to see him. Given Nassar’s esteemed stature, she thought at the time that it was intervaginal muscular work … At a follow-up treatment, Nassar unhooked her bra, rolled her onto her side on the massage table and put his hand on her left breast…”  Denhollander said, “I knew that was sexual assault.”

Many Olympians who want to achieve their dream of competing are constantly having to endure high measures of humiliation and disgust in order to have the opportunity to represent their country. By no means is that fair or morally just.

There have been records of sexual harassment and abuse dating back centuries, but women and men alike are told to silence their voices for the greater good of society.

However, that benefits no one and does not eliminate the problem. It is long overdue, but now in the 21st century, sexual violators are finally facing the consequences for their actions.

Heather Shah

Heather Shah

Heather Shah is pursuing a major in film studies. She is a big reader and a movie fanatic.
Heather Shah
October 30, 2017

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Heather Shah Heather Shah is pursuing a major in film studies. She is a big reader and a movie fanatic.

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