The guilty verdict on two sexual crimes issued Monday by a jury against producer Harvey Weinstein “has changed the course of history in the fight against sexual violence,” according to the New York prosecutor who accused him, thanks to the courage of many women who have cemented a social change claimed by the MeToo movement.
Weinstein, 67, is already waiting from prison for his sentence scheduled for March 11, in which the judge will decide the sentence he must serve behind bars after being convicted of two of the five charges charged by the Prosecutor’s Office, despite to which he circumvented the possibility of a life sentence by being acquitted of the three most serious
The charges in question are a criminal sexual act in the first degree, which carries between 5 and 25 years in prison, for practicing oral sex by force to production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006, and another of rape in third degree, punishable by maximum 4 years, against the aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013. But during the trial, and before him, many more voices have been heard.
“Dawn Dunning, Miriam Haley, Jessica Mann, Annabella Sciorra, Tarale Wulff, Lauren Young. Meghan Hast, Joan Illuzzi, “said Manhattan prosecutor Cyrus Vance at the conclusion of the process, reciting the names of the six witnesses who have reported in great detail their experiences and traumas and the two fiscal assistants who have raised accountability wanted by her supposed aggressor.
“These are the eight women who have changed the course of history in the fight against sexual violence. Eight women who have taken our judicial system to the 21st century stating that rape is rape and aggression is sexual aggression, yes or yes, “he added.
The president of the program of Studies on Women and Gender of the University of Smith (Massachusetts, USA), Carrie Baker, told Efe that because of its “tremendous symbolic importance for the MeToo movement”, which fights against sexual violence since A decade ago but it went viral in 2017, a conviction against Weinstein would be “perceived as a claim” and would encourage other victims to go to court.
This was stated by Gloria Allred, the lawyer for three of the witnesses – Haley, Sciorra and Young – who at the doors of the state Supreme Court on Monday declared that it is “a new day for victims of sexual violence.”
“The security forces now begin to believe you, the jurors begin to believe and condemn you. So have courage, because today is a new day and justice can also come to you,” he said.
THE “SILENCE BREAKERS”
Almost a hundred women have accused the producer of sexual misconduct since two reports in The New York Times and New Yorker magazine, which would later receive the Pulitzer Prize together, unleashed a scandal at the end of 2017, which he did not make more than growing up when bullying stories went viral under the #MeToo tag, which soon became a movement.
In that sense, Ronan Farrow, one of the journalists who signed those articles and today acclaimed author of the book “Catch and Kill”, on the power network that allowed Weinstein supposedly to act with impunity for decades, said the verdict “is the result of many women who decided to take a step of great cost and personal risk before reporters and prosecutors. “
A group of them are the so-called “Silence Breakers” (protesters of silence), who protested the first day of the trial before the court and among which is actress Rose McGowan, one among many who have reacted positively to the trial and , “speaking with the force of the more than 80 Weinstein victims”, he wished for more “fair results”.
Backing them up was the Time’s Up platform, founded by Hollywood stars after the MeToo, which also celebrated its legal achievements in just two years of life: “We have helped to pass laws to help survivors achieve justice, helped thousands of people face bullies and abusers in court, and changed the rules of the game. “
“In response to the MeToo, many states have passed new laws to address sexual harassment, such as the new and radical laws of California and New York. The movement has sensitized the issue, empowered women to break the silence and asked many people for responsibility. institutions, such as the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America, “explained Professor Baker.
IMPACT ON THE COMPANY
The biologist Amber Keyser, author of “No more excuses: dismantling rape culture” (No more excuses: dismantling the culture of rape “), highlighted the difficulties that add to the fact of simply reporting sexual abuse:” Very few aggression cases go to trial. Those who do are the most heinous, because prosecutors believe they are more likely to win. “
“This reinforces the stereotype that ‘real’ rape involves ‘monsters’ who violently victimize ‘pure and innocent’ victims, but those stereotypes are racist and classist,” Keyser explained, for whom these cases also “elicit the worst beliefs. of rape culture, that women are to blame if they dress or act in a way, or have a certain sexual history. “
An example of this was Weinstein’s defense strategy, led by the controversial lawyer Donna Rotunno, who in an interview with The New York Times said he had never suffered a sexual assault because he had never put himself in this position and, before the judge forbade him to speak with the media, he tried to discredit the witnesses.
In addition to those tools to “blame the victims,” the writer highlighted the role of journalists in these types of cases, since “the ways in which the media cover these trials can have a chilling effect on other women who want to pronounce, just as it can have an intense ‘trolley’ (harassment) in social networks. “
NEW LIGHT ON AN OLD FIGHT
Activists and experts agree that the outcome of the case is linked to the MeToo movement, but this goes further because “it has always been bigger than just an offender, and it is certainly much larger than a small case that has been allowed proceed under the current statutes of a state, “according to psychiatrist Jessica Gold, a professor and professional in her area at the University of Washington.
“Regardless of the outcome of the case, I think it has put a new light and demonstrates the need for real, legislative and cultural changes, about the way in which survivors are treated in our legal and criminal system,” said Gold, who said that ” none of us will stop fighting for changes, because it is time (“time’s up”) “.