Leading female journalists have set up a network to tackle sexual harassment in the media industry.
The Second Source is aimed at promoting awareness of abuse in journalism, and hopes to work with organisations to encourage change across the industry.
The group, which has cross-party political support, was set up following the scandal surrounding the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. It will inform women of their rights and provide support in a male-dominated industry.
Rosamund Urwin, a columnist at the Evening Standard, said she had helped set up the group after learning that other women had also suffered harassment. “I realised that unless we act, nothing will change,” she said. “It will happen to the 23-year-old of tomorrow, as it once happened to me.”
Megha Mohan, a broadcast journalist, added: “As journalists we’re meant to hold people to account, yet there’s often an uncomfortable culture of silence when it comes to bullying and harassment in our profession.”
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he was concerned about sexual abuse in journalism: “The harassment some women journalists have faced in the workplace is appalling – and it is the responsibility of all of us to challenge it and call it out. This needs to be a turning point.
“I strongly support the women journalists who have come together to create the Second Source. We must do everything we can to ensure women are able to speak out and have their concerns properly investigated.”
Maria Miller, the chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, said harassment was widespread, but she hoped that a culture change would ensure. “Sexual harassment and sexual abuse should have no place in our society, but in practice two-thirds of girls at school, half of all women students in higher education, and more than half of all female employees in the workforce have been subjected to harassment,” she said. “I welcome this new campaign to tackle sexual harassment in journalism and its ambition to bring about a culture change in the industry.”
Jo Swinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said it was important to recognise problems in the media industry, as well as in other sectors.
“Sexual harassment is sadly a problem in every industry, but I’m optimistic that the media revelations about Hollywood and politics in recent weeks can become a positive catalyst for change,” she said. “For all the justified media outrage about sexual harassment in other workplaces, the media must recognise it needs to act on its own harassment problem too.”
Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green party, said: “I’m really pleased to support this network which aims to tackle sexual harassment in journalism. No one should have to suffer harassment at work – and it’s great to see women working together to change behaviour and attitudes in this male-dominated industry.”
The scandal surrounding, who denies any inappropriate relationships with women, has sparked international debate over sexual abuse in several industries. The actor Kevin Spacey is one of several Hollywood figures who have been accused of sexual misconduct. Spacey apologised after his fellow actor Anthony Rapp accused him of making a sexual advance when Rapp was 14.
Dustin Hoffman has also issued an apology for his behaviour, while the director Brett Ratner has been accused of sexual harassment by six women.
In politics, Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary this week following his inclusion on a spreadsheet, which described the behaviour of several Conservative MPs. Tory MPs including Rory Stewart and Dominic Raab have strongly denied the allegations included in the spreadsheet.
The Labour activist Bex Bailey has spoken about being raped at a party event and another woman had described being assaulted on a hotel bed by an MP last year.
Source: The Guardian