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Inspired by the #MeToo movement that sprung up in response to the sexual assault and harassment allegations against disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein, the letter calls out the Swedish industry for failing to protect women from sexual abuse and for profiting from the work of known abusers.
“Directors, you have failed. Producers, you have failed. Production companies, you have failed. Theatre managers, you have failed. Politicians, you have failed,” it reads. “It is your responsibility to ensure that nobody is sexually abused at the workplace.”
Asserting “zero tolerance against sexual exploitation and violence” the signatories demand that employers, from film companies and theaters to book publishers and Swedish television networks, “stop protecting, hiring and making money on perpetrators” of sexual violence.
The letter was published in Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet along with numerous anonymous first person accounts of specific incidences of abuse.
“In one film I acted alongside one of the most prominent film actors, both in Sweden and abroad,” reads one testimony. “At a party he followed me into a hotel room, pushed me hard onto the floor, threw himself over me, held me tight and laughed with a dark look in his eyes. The thought ‘he is going to rape me’ ran through my head, but somehow I managed to get him off of me and ran.”
“At one of my first jobs, in the theatre elevator, I was pushed up against the wall by an actor in the same production and told to come to his dressing room at three o’clock, otherwise I would not continue working at the theatre,” reads another.
A third: “I was 23 years old and laid on a mattress to rest between rehearsals. One of the conductors came in, asking if he could rub my back. I immediately felt that I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t say no. He sat on top of me and started to massage my back. He then took out his penis and began to masturbate. When he was about to climax he lifted up my shirt and ejaculated on my back. Then he got up and left. Before the show started that night, he took my arm and said that it was nice and it was our secret.”
Alongside Vikander, the signatories to the open letter include such well known Swedish actresses as Sofia Helin, star of the original Swedish version of TV series The Bridge, and veteran actress Marie Goranzon (I Am Curious, Yellow).
The letter ends with a warning to abusers or those who seek to protect them.
“We will no longer be silent,” it reads. “We will bring those responsible to account and let the justice system run its course when needed. We will put the shame where it belongs — with the perpetrator and those who protect him. We know who you are.”
The group has started its own hashtag for supporters of their efforts, #tystnadtagning (#silenceaction in Swedish).
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