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300 top Hollywood women reveal sweeping anti-harassment action plan with a $13 million legal defence fund

  • Hundreds of women in film, TV, and theatre have launched an initiative to fight sexual harassment and misconduct in workplaces across the US.
  • A legal defence fund to assist women in blue-collar industries is already backed by $US13 million in donations.
  • The initiative, Time’s Up, includes Hollywood figures such as Shonda Rhimes, Ashley Judd, Eva Longoria, and Reese Witherspoon.

Hundreds of top Hollywood actresses and executives, directors, producers, writers, and agents have launched a sweeping initiative to combat sexual harassment in workplaces across the US, with a focus on blue-collar industries.

The initiative, Time’s Up, includes a legal defence fund backed by $US13 million in donations to assist women in low-wage industries, a campaign to advocate gender parity among corporate leadership, and proposed legislation to push companies to adopt policies on harassment and discourage the use of nondisclosure agreements.

The movement addresses a common criticism that the national conversation around sexual misconduct in workplaces has frequently excluded women who typically have less public influence and fewer resources to take on systemic abuse than Hollywood stars.

“Harassment too often persists because perpetrators and employers never face any consequences,” said an open letter from 300 women in film, TV, and theatre. “This is often because survivors, particularly those working in low-wage industries, don’t have the resources to fight back.”

The initiative comes amid a series of accusations of varying degrees of sexual misconduct against numerous high-profile men in Hollywood, media, politics, Silicon Valley, and academia that began in October.

The letter ran as a full-page ad in The New York Times and the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion on Monday. It also addressed another open letter written in November on behalf of 700,000 women in the agriculture industry who said that they stood in solidarity with the Hollywood accusers and that they, too, suffered from widespread sexual harassment and assault in their industry.

“We particularly want to lift up the voices, power, and strength of women working in low-wage industries where the lack of financial stability makes them vulnerable to high rates of gender-based violence and exploitation,” the Time’s Up letter said.

The movement has the backing of top Hollywood figures such as Shonda Rhimes, Ashley Judd, Eva Longoria, Reese Witherspoon, America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Kerry Washington, and Rashida Jones.

“If this group of women can’t fight for a model for other women who don’t have as much power and privilege, then who can?” Rhimes, the executive producer of hit TV series like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” told The Times.

“It’s very hard for us to speak righteously about the rest of anything if we haven’t cleaned our own house,” she said.

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