herald

Saturday 14 December 2019

Women must learn rights, says Watson

Actress Emma Watson is backing a new advice line
Actress Emma Watson is backing a new advice line

Actress Emma Watson has urged women to understand their rights as she helped launch a legal advice line for those who are suffering sexual harassment at work.

The Harry Potter star said it was "completely staggering" that the free advice line for women in England and Wales was the only service of its type.

Pointing out that one in two women experience sexual harassment in the workplace, she said: "It finally feels like people are realising the scale of the problem.

"I'm certainly hopeful that with global standards such as the recent International Labour Organisation treaty on harassment at work, we'll start to see a new climate of prevention and accountability on this issue."

Harassment

Donations from members of the public, including Watson, helped to kickstart the advice line, which is backed by the Time's Up UK's justice and equality fund, and managed by Rosa, which is a UK fund for women and girls.

Advice is provided by charity Rights of Women, which works to help women through the law.

"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," Watson said.

The aim of the advice line is to plug a gap in the availability of legal advice, so that women can get the help and support they need to hold their employer and harasser to account.

Rights of Women's senior legal officer Deeba Syed described workplace sexual harassment as a "hidden problem", even though it has reached "epidemic levels".

"This advice line's purpose is to empower women to exercise their legal rights in the workplace," she said.

"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."

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