The Me Too Collective
A safe space for people who have experienced sexual harm
to connect with others, get legal advice and report as a group.
Sexual harassment and assault is prevalent in New Zealand yet it is the most under reported form of harm. With little accountability, many perpetrators develop a pattern of behaviour and harm multiple people short or long periods of time. So why are reporting rates so low? Major factors include a reluctance to navigate the legal system alone and a fear of not being believed.
The Me Too Collective will provide an innovative matching service to connect individuals who have experienced sexual harm committed by the same perpetrator. Once matched, each group will be advised by a lawyer on reporting collectively to the Police or filing a civil claim in court. The lawyer will represent the group from start to finish.
How it works
Prospective Me Too Collective members register via on online portal and provide identifying information about themselves and the perpetrator, the nature of the sexual harm, location and timeframe.
The identities of prospective members are verified using an automated biometric platform. This protects members by preventing anyone acting maliciously from infiltrating the Me Too Collective in an attempt undermine its integrity.
Information on psychological support
Members are provided with information on how to access any government funded psychological support as well as private non-funded options.
Matching of members
When there is a match of three of more members who have experienced harmed from the same perpetrator, an initial assessment is undertaken by a team of lawyers.
Each member in the group is contacted individually by a lawyer and informed they have been matched with others. The lawyer obtains further information about their individual circumstances.
Each member decides whether they want to proceed and be identified to the others in their group, or if they want to withdraw.
A lawyer provides legal advice to the group on both the criminal and civil justice systems, including potential outcomes.
Each group decides if they want to proceed and either report to Police or file a civil claim in court. Their lawyer will provide legal representation from start to finish.
Maria Dew KC
Maria is a highly experienced civil litigator and was appointed King's Counsel in 2018. She has extensive expertise advising clients who have experienced sexual harm and advising organisations seeking to improve their reporting processes. She has been appointed as independent counsel to conduct investigations into sexual harm in a range of contexts, including employment, sport and education. Currently the President of the NZ Bar Association, Maria has a strong interest in access to justice initiatives.
Nura is an experienced civil litigator who appears at all levels of New Zealand’s courts and tribunals. She has considerable expertise advising clients who have experienced sexual harm, works as an independent investigator and represents parties in investigations and inquiries. She holds a masters in law with distinction from University College London and is a member of the New Zealand Bar Association Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Prior to becoming a barrister, Zoë was a researcher for the Chief Victims Advisor to Government at the Ministry of Justice. She has undertaken a range of advocacy initiatives to raise awareness of sexual harm and the need to improve legal processes. This includes her widely read #MeToo Blog, research, consultation, media appearances and public speaking. She currently teaches a course on legal ethics at the University of Auckland.
The launch date of the Me Too Collective is dependent on securing sufficient funding. We are currently in the process of exploring litigation funding options and grants from generous individuals and organisations. If you are interested in learning more about how you can support us, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Zoë Lawton explains the Me Too Collective in The SpinOff: Gossip found a new power in the #MeToo era. Here’s what needs to happen next.
A significant amount of law reform is needed to improve the legal processes for people who have experienced sexual harm. We have made a start by successfully lobbying for the Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievance for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Bill that will increase the reporting time for employees to report sexual harm. This Bill received cross-party support following its first reading in Parliament and is now under consideration by the Workforce and Education Select Committee. You can read the submissions filed by the Me Too Collective to the Education and Workforce Select Committee here.
What is sexual harm?
Examples include: unwelcome sexually offensive jokes, questions and comments, breaching a person's privacy by recording sexual images without their consent, threatening to harm a person in a sexual way, coercing a person into sexual activity, touching someone against their will, sexual assault, and rape.
Where does it happen?
Sexual harassment and assault occurs in a range of contexts: at work, at school, in public and at home. Perpetrators may be employers, colleagues, teachers, family members or acquaintances.
Is the Me Too Collective open to people of all genders?
Yes, people of all genders are welcome to register.
If I register with the Me Too Collective how will my privacy be protected?
All members of the Me Too Collective are protected by lawyer/client privilege. This means that information provided by members to barristers cannot be shared with others unless members provide consent.
Is there a fee to join?
All legal services provided by the MeToo Collective will be free.
How can I get more information?
Further information about the registration process will be made available when the Me Too Collective is officially launched. You can receive updates on our launch date by following us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.