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Union holding special meeting, urging BC actors to talk about sexual assault

Last Updated Nov 9, 2017 at 10:05 pm PST

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Summary

Meeting on Monday for male actors to talk about sexual violence

The Union of BC Performers has had two previous meetings for women

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The local acting community is reacting to the increasing sexual assault accusations being levelled at high-profile performers in Hollywood.

The union representing actors is reaching out specifically to men.

This coming Monday, the Union of BC Performers wants men who have been victims of sexual assault and harassment to come to a town hall meeting.

Keith Martin Gordey is the incoming president of the local and explains why the focus is on men.  “The main reason was because there had been men who had contacted the union and expressed a desire to have this happen. In addition, we’ve already had two town halls for women who are members of the union.”

He adds it takes tremendous courage to go public about abuse, especially in an industry where whistleblowing could get you blacklisted. However, he adds with all the stories surfacing, people feel empowered more than ever to share their experiences.

“It’s a difficult thing and people often just keep it to themselves but with this Harvey Weinstein case really exploding in the media and other people being accused of predatory behaviour, it seems to be an opportunity now for people to feel more comfortable coming forward.”

The meeting is being held at the UBCP/ACTRA offices at #300-380 West 2nd Avenue in Vancouver, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Defining sexual assault

With the stories of sexual abuse flooding our headlines, we may be asking ourselves whether we’ve been victims or been the perpetrator of sexual assault and never even realized it.

Given all the reports, you may be re-evaluating what you thought was a harmless tap on the knee or a friendly embrace.

NEWS 1130 legal analyst Michael Shapray says for the behavior to be deemed criminal it has to be unwelcomed and be sexual in nature. “Could a hug be interpreted as sexual assault? It would have to be an unwanted hug where someone came up and hugged a woman from behind and put their hands on her breasts — that could definitely be a sexual assault.”

He defines the law. “Sexual assault can be anything from an unwanted grope or a kiss or any type of touching that is without consent that has a sexual component to it. In terms of what the purpose was or in terms of the way the person was touched, so there’s a whole range of sexual assault from those types of behaviours all the way up to what was formerly known as rape.”

Sexual harassment on the other hand mostly describes inappropriate sexual conduct in the workplace. And while harassment might not be a crime, it’s still considered a serious enough offence to get human resources and supervisors involved.