MeToo founder Tarana Burke defiant after Harvey Weinstein ruling

Image source, Getty Images

“This is not a blow to the movement,” Tarana Burke, founder of MeToo, said defiantly in response to the overturning of Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction in New York.

“This is a clarion call and we are ready to answer this call,” she proclaimed.

His rallying call came after a New York appeals court ruled that Weinstein, once one of Hollywood’s most successful and influential producers, did not receive a fair trial in 2020 because prosecutors called witnesses whose accusations were not part of the charges against him.

Consequence: the judges ordered Weinstein to undergo a new trial.

Arthur Aidala, the movie mogul’s lawyer, hailed the ruling as a “victory for all criminal defendants in New York State.”

He added: “There are still people who are very unpopular in our society, but we still have to apply the law fairly to them in this trial. The law was not applied fairly to Harvey Weinstein.”

Weinstein’s trial in New York was crucial to the MeToo movement, the campaign against sexual abuse that went viral online after several women came forward, claiming he had sexually assaulted them.

Weinstein has always maintained his innocence and his defense team said during the trial in New York that the sexual relations between the film director and the accusers were consensual.

Ms. Burke, an activist who works with survivors of sexual violence, began using the phrase “Me Too” in 2006 to raise awareness of the plight of women who have been abused.

Eleven years later, this expression found global recognition after actress Alyssa Milano, one of those who accused Weinstein of sexual assault, used the expression in a viral tweet.

“We are devastated for the survivors connected to this case and for the survivors who found some comfort and catharsis in the initial verdict regarding Harvey Weinstein,” Ms. Burke said.

“Many people, many survivors and those who love and support survivors probably thought that the initial verdict meant that there was going to be a change, that it marked a change and a difference in the way that this justice system was going to evolve. and function,” she explained.

But she added that “this moment, and this decision, actually means we have a movement,” emphasizing that much progress has still been made.

“Ten years ago, we couldn’t get a man like Harvey Weinstein into a courtroom,” she said.

Image source, Getty Images

Rowena Chiu said she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein in a Venice hotel room in 1998, while she was his personal assistant. She initially signed a non-disclosure agreement, but later went public with her story.

“I myself said that the work has only just begun.”

But she added that overturning the New York verdict “really feels like a step backwards.”

Ms Chiu said it was already “incredibly difficult” to succeed in a sexual assault case. “But these verdicts were just glimmers of hope in centuries of darkness for women’s rights.”

“Today will not be a day that encourages (survivors) to change this situation.”

Ms. Chiu hopes that the overturning of the rape conviction in New York will lead to a call for legal reform and a change in how secondary witnesses will be allowed in the future in New York.

Others, however, believe that the court’s decision must be respected to ensure that everyone is treated fairly.

For Ms. Burke, however, the MeToo movement is about more than Harvey Weinstein.

Speaking at a red carpet event on Thursday, the MeToo founder told the Associated Press news agency: ‘One man gets away with it’ doesn’t mean a world without sexual violence is something that cannot be achieved.

“So I’m not worried about one man. I’m worried about what our justice system is going to do, what our culture is going to do – what are we going to do?”

Ms Burke has previously explained that celebrity sexual abuse cases should not be seen as the sole marker of the success of the MeToo movement.

Seeing which “celebrity goes to jail or not is not sustainable as a movement,” she told the BBC in 2020 after Weinstein’s (now overturned) conviction.

Instead, she said, the movement’s victory should be measured by focusing on the well-being of survivors.

Weinstein, 72, remains in prison. He was separately convicted of rape in Los Angeles in 2022.

Before the allegations against him emerged, the producer and his brother Bob were among the most powerful actors in Hollywood.

They co-founded Miramax Films, a distribution company named after their mother Miriam and father Max, in 1979. It was sold to Disney in 1993.

Their successes include 1998’s Shakespeare in Love, for which Weinstein shared the Best Picture Oscar. Over the years, Weinstein’s films have received more than 300 Academy Award nominations and 81 statuettes.

Video caption, Watch: Speaking alongside Ashley Judd, Tarana Burke said she was ‘devastated’ for survivors – but added the overturning of the conviction was not a ‘blow’ to the movement .

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