When it comes to witnessing sexual harassment and violence, keeping quiet isn't an option.Trigger warning: images from a PSA about sexual assault and harassment.
Now there's a PSA targeted to bystanders, highlighting the important role they can play in rape prevention.
The government of Ontario just produced #WhoWillYouHelp, a video that looks at various scenarios where women are being harassed or assaulted and puts you, the viewer, in the position of being a witness to someone's harassment or assault.
More than 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. That's over 1 billion survivors worldwide.
Yet, when it comes to discussing rape culture, addressing these problems at their roots, and taking concrete actions toward reducing that figure, the world remains passive. There have been campaigns aimed at helping survivors find the support they need after the attack, and there have been efforts to toughen up how we deal with assailants, but there's one crucial group that's almost always left out of the discussion: the bystanders.
As the PSA plays, you're put in the position of the bystander, seeing the coworker being harassed, the girl at the party being assaulted, the sexts being shared, and the man drugging the woman at the bar.
It offers a choice, but the message is simple.
When you do nothing, you're helping him.
But when you do something, you help her.
Sexual harassment and assault take many forms.
It could be workplace harassment or unwanted advances.
It could be assaulting someone too intoxicated to give consent.
It could be sharing someone's private pictures with others.
It could be drugging someone.
Ontario has set aside $41 million over the next three years to stop sexual assault, violence, and harassment.
Starting with this chilling PSA about the cost of staying silent, the government is taking on a systemic, worldwide problem in a radical way. They're planning to overhaul the curriculum for grades 1 through 12 — emphasizing the importance of healthy relationships and consent — to make sure training on this issue for province workers is up to date.
"Ontario has a plan to stop sexual violence and harassment. By focusing on the root causes of sexual violence — unhealthy attitudes and behaviors and gender inequality — we will make our province safer and more responsive to sexual violence and harassment."