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2 December 2022 | Podcasts | Article by Danielle Vincent

HJ Talks About Abuse: Harassment

As sexual harassment has been identified as one of the most important issues facing women and girls worldwide, we take a look at Hollyoaks’ recent story line ‘The Long Walk Home’, the Home Office’s ‘Enough’ campaign and Loreal’s recent harassment campaign, which have the issue to the forefront of media attention over the past few weeks. On today’s podcast we discuss this further and other related issues.

Harassment can:

  • happen in any form of setting e.g., at home, at work, out in public, school, night out, on the bus etc. anywhere

  • take MANY different forms, but can include verbal abuse, stalking, touching, invading personal space, being followed, on social media, not being left alone by someone talking, bullying, making faces, making jokes etc.

  • provoke feelings of fear, distress, threat and humiliation

 

Hollyoaks

Hollyoaks' new powerful story line - The special episode follows the character Maxine on a night out as she becomes separated from a group of friends while out in Liverpool and is followed and then violently attacked as she makes her way home.

The very emotional and telling episode also features on Gogglebox.

I’m a Celeb Star and runner up Owen Warner, another actor in the cast who plays Romeo who we see as a contrast make his way home safely after the night out, talks about this on his Instagram, releasing his own views on harassment, his experiences, and how important it is for everyone to speak out against it – especially when we see it happening. Owen talks about how he has witnessed harassment before in nightclubs – men feeling as though they are able to touch women in that sort of environment.

Writer Jayshree Patel says whilst explaining why she decided to pitch the episode:

"Your world view changes when you have daughters as you see life through their eyes," she said.

"I think all parents go through that and I think all girls go through that within themselves and it made me feel sad that we should be asking that question. One of the overwhelming emotions I felt about this was anger that freedom wasn’t allowed."

"Trying to explain to an autistic child why a grown man would behave in that way made me think that the responsibility isn’t just on women, it’s on anyone.

"We have this thing about how ‘it’s not all men’ and that is correct but, all men do have a responsibility, and it’s the thin end of the wedge. At the end of the day, what we are asking for is quite simple – to go out, have a drink, meet our friends and go home safely.

"It’s not a big ask and that’s what the whole episode is about."

To coincide with this, Lime Pictures also created a VR experience film as part of the women’s safety campaign that allows users to experience the sights and sounds of Hollyoaks character Maxine on her lone journey back from the night out. Purpose to promote empathy and empowerment – allows others (men) to understand what it feels like for a woman to be walking back on her own late at night.

In the interactive short film, set in Hollyoaks village and featuring a voiceover by Nikki Sanderson, who plays Maxine, we hear her internal narrative as she navigates her way home after a night out.

At the end of the episode, when Maxine is seeking help from the police, she blames herself for the attack; blaming herself for wearing what she considered to be inappropriate or dangerous clothing rather than the male attacker, who was really responsible for the horrific incident. After a discussion, she realises it is not her fault.

 

Home Office ‘Enough’ Campaign

You may have seen on TV the home office’s ‘Enough’ campaign that has been re-released in October 2022.

  • One clip shows a woman being harassed at a bar
  • One clip shows a female neighbour being harassed by her partner
  • One clip shows a woman being cat called by a group of men

The TV advert shows various examples of harassment, people at first choosing to ignore, and then showing how easy it is for bystanders to safely disrupt the abuse by speaking out, in an attempt to encourage people, recognise and prevent harassment from happening.

The purpose of this campaign is to encourage the public to challenge perpetrators of abuse against women and girls, the campaign reprises the TV ad that ran in March this year and unveils a range of new supporting digital, radio and out-of-home executions.

The campaign draws on locations where violence against women most commonly occurs and shows actions the public can take to stop the abusive behaviour. The advertising is based on audience insights and informed by an advisory group of over 40 voluntary sector organisations, survivors and academics who have given their expert insight.

During the advert, viewers and asked to “just think STOP”:

‘It can be emotional, physical, sexual or financial. It can be words or actions. At home or in the street. It can be inflicted by a partner, ex-partner, family member, colleague, friend or stranger. It can be in person, through technology and online.

Whatever form it takes, abuse is never justified. Any behaviour that demeans, frightens or distresses is abuse. It has to stop.

Knowing what abuse is helps us all recognise it when it happens. We can all do something to keep women and girls safe.

There are many simple and safe ways to help stop the abuse of women and girls. Even small acts of recognition and support can help disrupt it. Here are four ways you can step in safely’

 

Loreal Campaign

Loreal decided to launch their campaign in an effort to encourage women and men to intervene safely if they experience or witness street harassment.

The purpose of the campaign is to drive people towards the Stand Up virtual bystander intervention training programme – takes 10 mins and teaches people how to react as a witness and victim of sexual harassment.

So far, more than 950,000 people have been trained with Stand Up across 41 countries.

In their campaign, Loreal advocate:

‘When we see someone drop something or fall over in the street, we instinctively step in to help. Why don’t we have the same reaction when we see someone being harassed?

Most of us want to do something to help but don’t know what to do or how to go about it. There is the fear of danger – the person may be aggressive or a threat to one’s personal safety. We might even think that it is none of our business.

A call for action:

In a 2019, Ipsos survey conducted in eight countries, 78% of the 15,500 women interviewed claim to have been harassed at least once. Only 25% said that someone intervened.

L’Oréal Paris has decided to take action. Why? Because L’Oréal Paris stands for empowerment in every walk of a woman’s life. By removing obstacles preventing women from fulfilling their ambitions, we are committed to elevating their sense of self-worth. Harassment not only affects women physically, but mentally too. No form of aggression should be taken lightly. ’

They have come up with the 5D’s method in aid of victims of street harassment:

 

What they have done?

‘In November 2019, L’Oréal Paris launched an in-house campaign to train 100 % of the people working for the L’Oréal Group – women and men – to intervene safely and successfully if they experience or witness this type of situation.

On International Women’s Day, L’Oréal Paris has now taken the campaign outside the Group and on to the street. The Stand Up program has been launched already in five countries and will be r in a further six countries by the end of the year. From schools to public transport to festivals to online spaces, Stand Up will grow a global community of 1 million upstanders, trained in the 5D’s: Direct, Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, a method which is simple, safe and effective.

By opening the public eye to the scale of harassment experienced by women, in particular, experience, Stand Up aims to simultaneously discourage harassers, support victims and encourage bystanders to intervene. To overall effect a cultural shift in the global response to street harassment.’

Sarah Everard

Raped and killed by a serving Met Police Officer Wayne Couzens as she walked back to her home in Clapham, London in March 2021.

Couzens used COVID lockdown regulations to falsely arrest Sarah Everard before he kidnapped, raped and strangled her and then burned her body. He used handcuffs and his warrant card in order to persuade her to get into his car.

Harassment Statistics

  • Office for National Statistics in 2022 revealed that:
  • people felt less safe walking alone in all settings after dark than during the day; with women feeling less safe than men in all settings after dark
  • disabled people felt less safe in all settings than non-disabled people
  • more women (27%) than men (16%) reported they had experienced at least one form of harassment in the previous 12 months

Police Reports of Harassment:

There were 263,919 harassment offences recorded by the police in England and Wales in 2021/22, compared with 219,667 in the previous year. The number of harassment offences recorded in the most recent year was the peak for this type of crime, with 2011/12 having the fewest in the provided time period at 48,141. (Harassment in England and Wales 2022 | Statista)

Should men be more aware of how they act around women? The idea that men should go out of their way to ensure that women feel less threatened i.e. when walking near a woman on her own at night, they create space between them, or walk ahead so they feel less threatened?

We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at [email protected] or Danielle Vincent at [email protected]

Get in touch

 


Author bio

Danielle is a Senior Associate in the Abuse Specialist Personal Injury Department. She specialises in representing survivors of abuse and has experience in bringing claims against; sporting institutions, schools, religious institutions, scout organisations, County Councils, medical professionals and therapists. She is also acting on a number of compensation redress schemes including the Manchester City Scheme, Lambeth Children's Home Redress Scheme and the Northern Ireland Redress Scheme.

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Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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