The #MeToo 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 sexually harass and assault multiple people throughout their careers and personal lives. So why are reporting rates so low? A major factor is that coming forward as an individual can be very stressful, isolating and ultimately, overwhelming.
The #MeToo Collective is a charity that enables people to find strength in numbers and report in groups. It will provide a matching service to connect people who have been sexually harassed or assaulted by the same perpetrator. Once matched, each group is then advised by a lawyer on the different reporting processes available to them. If the group decides to report, a lawyer will provide legal representation throughout their reporting process of choice to help get the outcome they want.
How it works
Members provide their name, the name of the perpetrator, information about the type of sexual harassment or assault they experienced and other information that will be used for the matching process.
Optional psychological support referral
Members will also be offered an optional referral to a psychological support services provider.
All members have their identities verified using online platform APLYiD. This is to protect members and prevent a person from impersonating another person in order to join the #MeToo Collective and attempt to access other members' information.
Matching of members
Members who have been sexually harassed or assaulted by the same perpetrator will be matched. Matched members are then informed of the total number of members they have matched with. The identities of matched members are not shared at this stage.
Preliminary legal advice
Matched members are provided with preliminary legal advice on the information sharing process with other matched members. Legal advice is also provided on and the available reporting processes provided by (but not limited to) the Police, the Human Rights Commission and the Employment Relations Authority.
Matched members decide if they want to connect with other matched members and their information is shared among the group according to their preferences. They also decide whether they want to proceed with reporting and which reporting process to use.
Detailed legal advice
Each group of matched members will be assigned a lawyer who will represent them through their reporting process of choice. This lawyer will give them specific advice on their case including potential outcomes.
Each group of matched members proceeds through their reporting process of choice.
Zoë worked as researcher for the Chief Victims Advisor to Government at the Ministry of Justice before becoming a lawyer. She was a finalist in the 2018 Stuff Women of Influence Awards for her volunteer work that raised awareness of sexual harassment and assault in the legal profession. This included her widely read #MeToo Blog, numerous public speaking events on improvements to reporting processes, and advocacy in the media.
Maria Dew QC
Chair of the Lawyer Panel
Maria was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2018 and has extensive experience advising clients who have experienced sexual harassment and assault. She has also been appointed independent counsel to conduct investigations and reviews by the the Ministry of Justice, State Services Commissioner, Royal Commission into Abuse in State and Faith Based Care, various District Health Boards and a variety of clients in the private sector.
The launch date of the #MeToo Collective is dependent on securing sufficient funding. We are currently in the process of applying for funding from relevant government agencies including: Police, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and ACC. We are also exploring funding options from the philanthropic sector as well as individual business and organisations. If you are interested in learning more about how you can support us with funding, please email: email@example.com
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 lobbying for a law change that will increase the reporting time for employees to report sexual harm to their employers from 3 months to 12 months. This will bring the reporting timeframe in line with the current timeframe to make a human rights complaint concerning sexual harassment. But we need your support! Please consider making a submission on the Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievance for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Bill to make this law change a reality.
Some questions to ponder when drafting your submission:
- Is a 12 month timeframe appropriate?
- Should the timeframe be longer than 12 months?
- Should there be no timeframe at all?
Submissions are due on 15 July 2022. For more information on how to make a submission, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is sexual harassment and assault?
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, 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, current or ex-partners, acquaintances or strangers.
Is the #MeToo Collective open to people of all genders?
Yes, people of all genders are welcome to register.
If I register with the #MeToo Collective how will my privacy be protected?
All members of the #MeToo Collective are protected by lawyer/client privilege. This means that information provided by a member to a #MeToo Collective lawyer cannot be shared with others unless the member provides consent.
Why does my identity need to be verified?
All members who match with another member and choose to share their identities must have their identity verified using secure automated identify verification software APLYiD. This ensures that no one can impersonate another person in order to join the #MeToo Collective and obtain access to members' information.
How does the matching process work?
When members join they provide their name, the name of the perpetrator, and other specific information which is recorded online in ActionStep, a client management programme used by lawyers in New Zealand. Each time a new member is added to ActionStep a search is run to ascertain if there is a match with an existing member or members who have been sexually harassed or assaulted by the same perpetrator. A manual check by a lawyer then takes place to ensure the match is correct.
Is there a fee to join?
All legal services provided by the #MeToo Collective are free.
How can I get more information?
Further information about the registration process will be made available when the #MeToo Collective is officially launched. You can receive updates on our launch date by following us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.