East London woman helps set up Second Source group to tackle harassment
PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:22 27 February 2018
If you think being a woman in 2018 is wearisome (juggling work and family, trying to afford your own home or contending with all the questionable messages from Tinder matches) then spare a thought for all those who have gone before you.
In 1974 you couldn’t open a bank account without your husband’s permission and in 1981 you could be refused to be served in a pub on your own.
This year may mark the centenary of women getting the vote but if the past 100 years have shown us anything it is that equality is a work in progress and there is still plenty more to do.
Victoria Richards, 36, of Wanstead, is a founding member of The Second Source – a group set up in response to the wave of accusations about sexual harassment that came to light following allegations made against American film producer Harvey Weinstein in October 2017.
The group was created by female journalists and seeks to promote awareness, inform people of their rights and work with organisations to create change.
“Why is it important to have a group like this? Well, first and foremost it is vital to create safe spaces where victims don’t have to feel alone,” Victoria said.
“We’ve either all been through this, or we know people who have.
“From unwanted attention from a stranger on the Tube, to hands up skirts in the stock cupboard, to offers of promotions in return for sexual favours, to lewd comments – experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace can be extremely frightening and feel very isolating.
“We want everyone feel able to call out this behaviour when they see it or experience it.”
Victoria said harassment happens in every industry, but in journalism it can be particularly rife due to the informal nature of meetings with sources and with editors.
“Much of our news-gathering or tips come from casual business lunches or dinners, over drinks, or at networking events – and that can also lead to some unscrupulous and unwanted behaviour by people who decide to take advantage, or who believe they deserve sexual favours for working on a story,” she explained.
“I am so glad we are having this open conversation now about sexual harassment.
“It can only be for the good of women, and men, everywhere.
“Finally, people are listening, and together we are helping break down the culture of silence that has enabled predators (male and female) to get away with it for far too long.”
The Second Source is primarily focused on the media industry, but the group hopes to help people in other professions as well.
“On a local level, even though The Second Source is primarily focused on media, we hope we can help people in other industries too – the office worker, the librarian, the barmaid, the shop assistant,” she said.
“While we don’t have the resources to help individuals in other industries directly, we hope that by raising the profile of groups like ours, other people will feel more confident in speaking up about inappropriate behaviour in their own workplaces.”
Victoria stressed that women can’t end harassment on their own and it is important for men to call it out when they see it, whether it is in the pub or boardroom or from their friends or bosses.
“We want men and women to take a stand and say NO – just as the suffragettes did,” she added.
“We want people to shout it from the rooftops – that this behaviour is not right, and we won’t keep silent.
“In that way, we can all help each other to move forward and bring about a much larger, global shift in attitudes and behaviour.
“We also need to teach it to our children, so that future generations grow up with a true sense of equality and respect for each other.”
The Second Source is planning events this year and welcoming suggestions on the issues it should be tackling.