Germany's Proposal Calls for National Response to Entertainment-Industry Harassment

Christine Luders

The move follows the first #metoo allegations in the German industry against television director Dieter Wedel.

A high-ranking German bureaucrat has called for a new national center to fight harassment in the local entertainment industry.

The proposal would see Berlin set up a national office where workers in the entertainment industry — film and television but also employees in Germany's many state and regional theaters— could file complaints and receive legal advice. It marks the first official government response in Germany to the global #metoo movement and comes shortly after public harassment allegations this week against a major figure in the local television industry.

Until now, many within the German industry had accused the government of being too complacent in regards to harassment. Before this week, there had been no serious allegations lodged against local industry heavyweights. That changed on Wednesday when German newspaper Die Zeit published allegations of harassment and assault lodged by three separate actresses against Dieter Wedel, one of the country's most successful television directors. Wedel denies all charges against him.

Christine Luders, head of the country's federal office for anti-discrimination, on Thursday proposed setting up a national center to handle harassment complaints in the German entertainment industry. She argued employees in the entertainment business were at greater risk of sexual harassment and assault at work and needed both special protection and government support.

"Actresses and actors in Germany that have been harassed have been left alone too long," Luders said. 

Several entertainment industry bodies in Germany, including the German Film Academy and the country's main actors union, support the idea of creating a central body, independent of the entertainment industry, to deal with allegations of harassment.