Weinstein Verdict: Ray Of Hope For Survivors

Sayfty
Posted March 11, 2020 from India
Photo credit: NY Times

The Verdict: I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across this headline "Harvey Weinstein Sentenced To 23 Years In Prison". Wow! I froze for a moment. Finally! I felt a sense of euphoria, a ray of hope for all survivors. According the NPR, Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison in a Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. According to NBC, more than 80 women had accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including rape, sexual assault and harassment, going back decades. As I watched my twitter feed trend with #HarveyWeinstein, most women on my social media feeds celebrated this verdict, claiming, “Justice has been served”. Many tweets congratulated the “Silence Breakers” who courageously not only shared their stories with the world but also testified in court against this rapist. Harvey Weinstein was a media mogul in Hollywood who for decades had brandished his power and influence to sexually assault dozens of young women, intimidating and silencing them.  The 24 "Silence Breakers" released the following statement "Harvey Weinstein's legacy will always be that he's a convicted rapist. He is going to jail - but no amount of jail time will repair the lives he ruined, the careers he destroyed, or the damage he has caused."

Why this verdict matters to survivors?  The reason this verdict is so powerful because violence against women and girls is pandemic. According to WHO, 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner (not including sexual harassment) at some point in their lives. Of all those who experience violence, less than 40 per cent of the women seek help of any sort. Most women usually resort to family and friends for help. They rarely look to formal institutions and mechanisms such as the police or health services. In fact less that 10 percent of survivors of sexual assault seek help from the police. 

Sayfty recently released a Survivor’s toolkit for survivors of sexual assault. Through an anonymous survey, survivors shared their experiences using (or not choosing to use) professional services. As a matter of fact, so many things could go wrong once the survivor chooses to seek legal recourse. Often time perpetrators silence victims with threats, and or money. The legal process can be a long-drawn re-traumatizing battle. Substantial evidence or finding reliable witnesses to testify in court can be a big roadblock. And while 154 countries have laws on sexual harassment it does not mean they are always implemented. As is evident in the Nirbhaya case, the laws and court can play a big role in delaying justice.

A Ray Of Hope: This verdict comes as a ray of hope to millions of women around the world who have been assaulted. Hope that the justice system works and that woman's voices can no longer be silenced or ignored. That, perpetrators (no matter how rich or powerful they are) can no longer get away with crimes against women and girls. Today's verdict will hopefully serve as a reminder to our generation and the next that TimesUp. It's time for us to no longer ignore sexual harassment, abuse, and assault in homes, at workplace on the streets. That it's never a victim's fault, it’s not their clothes, time of the day or how drunk they were. Rapist causes rapes. Period! 

I am a survivor of child sexual abuse. Last month I stood on the TedxGateway stage in front of 5000 people to share my story (for the first time). It took a lot of courage, conviction and fighting my own fears and beliefs. While an assault can last for a few seconds, its impact in the form of trauma can live with you all your life. You see our society does a great job at raising girls and women to believe that we have a role to play in our own abuse, assaults or harassments. So it takes mountain loads of courage to stand up and share our stories with people we love and with strangers. Because we don't even know if anyone will believe us! If people will stop judging us for what we could have, should have done. And so, as a survivor I salute these 24 women. They not only had the courage to share how Weinstein assaulted them, but they went a step further to testify against him in court. 

Remember: We as a society have repeatedly failed survivors of sexual assault. The courts either deny justice or don't deliver it in a timely manner. And we often don’t know how to support a survivor or simply refuse to believe one. This verdict is an example of how justice was successfully served to many. And any time we are looking for hope and courage, trying to decide what to do next, lets think of these brave women who against all odds stood up for themselves and against rape culture. Let’s remind ourselves “The Silence Breaker community was founded on solidarity, support, and compassion. The New York Trial has ended, but the Silence Breakers will persist in our crusade for cultural change, justice and to have our voice heard”.

This story was submitted in response to Gender-Based Violence.

Comments 24

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Tumanjong Miranda
Mar 12
Mar 12

This is so great! At last justice is served.
It's true, it doesn't reverse the damage, but there's some sense of satisfaction.
We really need to support survivors, this will help others open up and break that silence.
Thanks for sharing dear sister.
Have a great day.
XX

Sayfty
Mar 12
Mar 12

Thank you for sharing your insights Tumanjong! Yes, we need to support survivors in the best way can!

Rahmana Karuna
Mar 12
Mar 12

Dear Sayfty,
interesting that i was surprised to see your "headline" this morning. i had to check your country. hahaha, twitter. global impact.
WOW a Ted talk. i just tried to find you, is it Tedxgateway india? is there a way we can watch or listen to that talk?
as a nurse practitioner, i always found this an important area for women at their annual exams. for many women it was their FIRST time sharing their story. clinicians do not delve into these time consuming and sensitive topics d/t their own discomfort and/or ignorance.
i was asked to fill in for a midwife who had to go on medical leave. she had a very busy independant practice/birth center. staffed and supported by lesbians who are "separatists"(no men allowed on their land or in their social lives) and all ten years older than me. the receptionist/house painter by trade fell in love with me. We were together for ten years. Couple months after we broke up i was sexually molested by another woman, who had been a peer at work and a friend, at an outside swimming pond birthday party. every single woman i went to said what i "shoulda, woulda, coulda done". it was an uphill battle. being in a tea party town that voted trump in, can you imagine if i had reported to police i was molested by another woman, oh we were all naked at a birthday party swimming and eating................what a field day in the papers and in the police station.....

Sayfty
Mar 12
Mar 12

Thanks Rahmana, yes its TedxGateway India. I will share the link as soon as it's ready. I am sorry to hear about your experience. It's for the reasons you have mentioned above, why it's so hard for survivors to share their stories!

Rahmana Karuna
Mar 12
Mar 12

which is why i have produced The Vagina Monologues several times over the years in this vagina unfriendly town. I am a fierce voice and use it!!!! A dear friend and another Dance leader, she has a music degree and teaches singing, said to me one evening as we were leaving the dance hall "you have been blessed with a megaphone for a 5th chakra". ahahaha.
I am active in the front lines with protests. I have diffused near physical altercations between:
Anarch punks against riot geared up cops.
cops with keys to the car with arrestees inside almost give me their keys, at forest defense road blockades.
I am fairly fearless.
yet what has stopped me in my tracks over the years has been men with verbal sexual intonations slipping out sideways cuz they aren't getting any at home (minister at a church i attended a few years ago)
or just disgusting men whispering in my ear
or showing their penis:
50 yards away from me alone at my bus stop 11 years old, michigan.
from the other side of the library shelves thru an opening between books(western washington university 24 years old), or from bushes near the sidewalk (spain 21years old).......................................

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Mar 12
Mar 12

Dear Sis Sayfty,
Thank you for the educational updates on this cruel story that has been in the news year in and out. We are hoping this sends a message globally to bring rapist, bullies and the like of sexual demonic crimes of evil men alike to full term justice. For centuries men have used their gender, strength and so called power to commit evil crimes against women.
We are standing strong in support of women and girls and will continue to support #girlswomenprotection turned revolution for centuries forever movement!
We know we have a long way to go but we can say "the torch " has been lit!
Sis Queen

Sayfty
Mar 12
Mar 12

Dear Queen Sheba, i agree and hope this verdict sends out a strong message to the world. And yes, the torch has been lit and we will carry it forward!

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Mar 12
Mar 12

Absolutely, Amin! Thank you my dear Sis Sayfty.

vallen57
Mar 12
Mar 12

Justice is indeed finally served. Enough of women being used by men for their own greatness. Thank you for sharing this story!

Sayfty
Mar 12
Mar 12

Thank you for taking out the time to read it!

mkaplan
Mar 12
Mar 12

Thank you for sharing, Sayfty. There was a sigh of relief knowing that he had been served jail time, and honestly I think he should stay in there for more time because he brought so much damage to the victims and their families. But I am so proud of the women who have spoken up and brought awareness to this area of sexual assault, and my hope (to your exact point) is that we can find more ways to support the survivors and the courage to never be silenced.

Sayfty
Mar 12
Mar 12

Thank you and I echo your thoughts. It's taken these women a lot of courage to speak up and I hope we all can learn from their experience of not being silenced.

marsieve
Mar 12
Mar 12

This is fantastic news for women all over the world--not just for victims of abuse. Greater awareness can help prevent future instances of abuse from happening. Thanks for sharing!

Sayfty
Mar 12
Mar 12

Absolutely! Hopefully it will serve as a deterrent, especially for rich powerful men in the future.

vintagelink123
Mar 12
Mar 12

Coming from a small country like Fiji in the South Pacific where we come from a really strong patriarchal society, Weinstein case gives us hope.....we are currently going through our first formal court case of sexual harassment in the work place and initially nothing was done until the survivor went on social media...Then things changed...

I thank all these brace women survivors for coming forward and making a difference for women.....

Sayfty
Mar 13
Mar 13

I think social media has given people the power to share their stories & hold others accountable. It has allowed millions to raise their voice on issues that are important to them!

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 14
Mar 14

Thanks for the excellent report with the important leadership in analysis by you, always part of Sayfty. So true, and we have been challenging this for years! "This verdict comes as a ray of hope to millions of women around the world". Knowing it has lifted the spirits of so many World Pulse sisters makes this success all the more important. Let's keep roaring together.

Sayfty
Mar 16
Mar 16

Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement Tamarack!

ARREY- ECHI
Mar 16
Mar 16

Dear SayFty,
Thank you for this detailed write up, especially on highlighting the damages rape and sexual assault causes on women. Thank you for adding your own story. That took a lot of courage.

"This verdict comes as a ray of hope to millions of women around the world who have been assaulted. Hope that the justice system works and that woman's voices can no longer be silenced or ignored. That, perpetrators (no matter how rich or powerful they are) can no longer get away with crimes against women and girls. Today's verdict will hopefully serve as a reminder to our generation and the next that TimesUp. It's time for us to no longer ignore sexual harassment, abuse, and assault in homes, at workplace on the streets. That it's never a victim's fault, it’s not their clothes, time of the day or how drunk they were. Rapist causes rapes. Period! "

That paragraph was my take away. Much respect to you all silent breakers.

Sayfty
Mar 16
Mar 16

Many thanks! I am glad it resonated with you!

baganda
Mar 16
Mar 16

thank you very much a good story still interesting for the woman

Sayfty
Mar 16
Mar 16

Thank you for taking out the time to read it & give your feedback!

baganda
Mar 18
Mar 18

thank you so much

lemonadelemon
Aug 30
Aug 30

Thank you for sharing. Great write up