Yesterday, the former Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape and sexual assault. He is facing up between 5 and 25 years in prison, following his convictions at a court in New York.
However, Mr. Weinstein was acquitted on three other counts, and on one of the most serious charges against him: being a sexual predator. When the verdict was read he just sat motionless.
The Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who presided over the case, said in a news conference that it took huge courage for women to come forward to give their testimony. “This is a new landscape for survivors of sexual assault – he told reporters after the verdict – These heroic women broke their silence to hold Harvey Weinstein accountable, and a generation of sexual assault survivors heard their every word.”
The trial, which stemmed from accusations that Weinstein targeted two women — Jessica Mann and Miriam Haley — when they were starting their careers in the film industry, was one of the first major prosecutions and high-profile cases in the #MeToo era.
Moreover, the social movement started because of Weinstein. In 2017, the hashtag #MeToo went viral when women began using it to tweet about the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations. The phrase and hashtag quickly developed into a broad-based, and eventually international movement.
Mr. Weinstein’s allegations prompted global outrage and a social media phenomenon, in which victims came forward with similar accusations against men in powerful positions.
This is why, for many people, the trial was a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement and a crucial test in the effort to hold influential men accountable for sexual misconduct.
When three years ago more and more women said “me too”, it felt like the world was changing. Woman after woman was standing up, and it seemed as though people were actually, for once, listening. It seemed as though these accusations might really matter, that they might matter in the way that accusations against powerful men who have hurt women often don’t.
It was a historical moment.
For the first time, the world reacted with outraged, fascinated shock towards a rich, famous and powerful man.
And today we can finally say that our system, even though it so often silences survivors and delivers injustice, has opened its eyes.
Something it’s changing.
And today is a new day. Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for crimes he committed. He is a vicious, serial, sexual predator who used his power to threaten, trick, assault, rape, trick, humiliate and silence his victims.
The women who came forward courageously and at great risk, made that happen. Thank you.
I don’t know if this feels like real justice for sexual assault survivors, but what I hope is that we all understand the significance of the cultural shifts enforced by the #MeToo movement. Because a new age has just started. An age of women empowerment, of girls supporting girls, fighting one next to the other for their rights.
The #MeToo started as an online movement, but secure an offline legacy. And now, I wouldn’t even call the Me Too a movement anymore. I would call it a campaign, that is part of something larger: the women’s rights the movement.