Emma Watson has launched a new helpline to provide women with free legal advice if they have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. Ms. Watson said it “finally feels like people are realising the scale of the problem.”
This helpline will consist of volunteer female employment lawyers offering free guidance to any woman who calls the helpline.
The helpline has been backed by the Time’s Up UK Justice and Equality Fund and managed by Rosa, a UK-wide charitable fund that supports initiatives to benefit women and girls in the UK. The charity, Rights of Women, a charity that helps women through utilising the law, is responsible for recruiting the lawyers who will provide the legal advice.
The fundraising for the helpline was kick-started by donations from the public and several celebrities such as Watson herself who stated it was “completely staggering” that the free helpline was the only one of its type within England and Wales.
Using the TUC’s research that reported that half of women in the UK reported being sexually harassed at work, Ms Watson said:
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.
Deeba Syed, senior legal officer for Rights of Women, said that sexual harrassment within the workplace has reached “epidemic levels”.
Ms Syed 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.
Ms Watson who agrees with the above comment, said:
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 domestically.
The number for the helpline is 020 7490 0152.