Emma Watson has said it feels as though the scale of sexual harassment in the workplace is finally being understood as she launched a legal advice line to help women learn about their rights.
Watson, who starred in the Harry Potter movies, has helped fund the service, which is backed up by Time’s Up UK, Rosa and Rights of Women, which has recruited volunteer female employment lawyers to provide legal advice.
Watson said: “It finally feels like people are realising the scale of the problem, and I’m certainly hopeful that with global standards such as the recent International Labour Organization treaty on harassment at work we’ll start to see a new climate of prevention and accountability on this issue domestically.”
Sexual harassment at work
Watson, who has been a strong advocate of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, said it was “staggering” that a free advice line did not exist already.
She added: “Understanding what your rights are, how you can assert them and the choices you have if you’ve experienced harassment is such a vital part of creating safe workplaces for everyone, and this advice line is such a huge development in ensuring that all women are supported, wherever we work.”
Rights of Women said the advice line will help women hold their employer and harasser to account.
Its senior legal officer, Deeba Syed, said that while workplace sexual harassment had reached “epidemic levels” it was still a “hidden” problem.
She said: “This advice line’s purpose is to empower women to exercise their legal rights in the workplace. By advising women about their legal options and increasing their understanding of equalities and discrimination law, we will be able to help them make informed choices about next steps, including how to navigate the legal system with confidence.
“We know that complaints of sexual harassment at work are still frequently responded to in a gendered manner that is negative, undermining or can lead to victimisation. That is why Rights of Women will also work towards dismantling the underlying structural problems that puts the burden on victims and makes it difficult for women to come forward through its policy work.”
The advice line is 020 7490 0152.