BAFTA Awards: Anti-Harassment Protests Planned, Stars Set to Bring Activists as Guests

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Gemma Arterton, Andrea Riseborough and Naomie Harris are among those set to bring activist guests to the awards ceremony, while hundreds of industry figures having signed an open letter calling time on sexual harassment.

The BAFTA Awards looks set to have its own Time's Up moment, mirroring the Golden Globes in serving as a major public platform for an industry-wide protest against sexual harassment. 

Numerous guests are reportedly set to wear black on the red carpet, with many others planning to wearing Time's Up pin badges to offer their support. Meanwhile, Gemma Arterton — who The Hollywood Reporter understands has, alongside Emma Watson, been one of the chief organizers of the Time's Up activity surrounding the BAFTAs — plus Andrea Riseborough, Gemma Chan, Naomie Harris and Tessa Thompson will be accompanied by activist guests. 

In advance of the awards, industry figures — including Arterton, Chan, Harris, Riseborough, Watson, Noma Dumezweni, Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Sophie Okonedo, Florence Pugh, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Saoirse Ronan and Emma Thompson — have signed an open letter to call for an end to harassment, abuse and impunity across all industries.

The letter, published in The Observer newspaper, has been drafted in unity with organizations and activists working to advance equality and women’s rights, who have also penned their own open letter envisioning a safe and just society and highlighting the multiple forms of abuses of power that persist in the U.K. today. 

"This movement is bigger than just a change in our industry alone," it reads. "This movement is intersectional, with conversations across race, class, community, ability and work environment, to talk about the imbalance of power.”

It goes on to say: “In the very near past, we lived in a world where sexual harassment was an uncomfortable joke; an unavoidable awkward part of being a girl or a woman. It was certainly not to be discussed, let alone addressed. In 2018, we seem to have woken up in a world ripe for change. If we truly embrace this moment, a line in the sand will turn to stone.”

A second open letter, welcoming recent support and advocacy from women in the entertainment industry, has been signed by more than 160 service providers, academics and activists, including people who work in rape crisis centers, specialist Black and minority ethnic women’s organizations, disabled women’s organizations, refugees, helplines, trade unions, universities and community organizations. 

“We bear witness each day to the ways that adult women, young women and girls are subjected to violence in every sphere, from the home to the workplace," it reads. "We know that many women are subjected to abuse, which is not only about sex and gender, but also about factors such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, disability, age, and more; and we know that this compounds the marginalization that women have to face. We recognize that the ways in which women in the entertainment industry have been silenced, mirror the ways that women are silenced by individual perpetrators, by companies, by families, by institutions, by communities, and by the state.

The letter concludes: "For each woman in the entertainment industry who has spoken out, there are thousands of women whose stories go unheard. … These are not isolated incidents. This is about power and inequality; and it is systemic.”

Outside Royal Albert Hall before Sunday's show, protestors jumped the rope and made their way onto the red carpet to support the Time's Up movement.  

Outside of Time's Up, both groups of women have united to support a new fund, the U.K. Justice and Equality Fund, which will resource an expert network of advice, support and advocacy organizations and projects across the U.K. The fund aims to make workplaces and other contexts just, safe and equitable for all and ensure that anyone who has been subjected to harassment and abuse, including sexual violence at work, is better able to access support and justice. It will be managed by Rosa — the U.K. Wide Fund for Women and Girls — and donations are being collected via a GoFundMe page.

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