Since the revelations last year about the alleged evil sexual abuse Harvey Weinstein visited upon young women looking to make their way in the entertainment industry, men and women across the country have admired those brave enough to step forward and share their stories. On Sunday night at the Golden Globes, women across the country and the political spectrum appreciated the small gestures of solidarity with, and speeches in support of, the victims of sexual misconduct in Hollywood.
In her speech after accepting a lifetime achievement award, Oprah Winfrey spoke for women in both Hollywood and around our nation who’ve put up with systemic sexual harassment and abuse. She eloquently said, “I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They are the women whose names we’ll never know.”
Unfortunately, the victims of sexual misconduct are not limited to one industry, and the vast majority of those victims do not have the same platform or star power to ensure their stories are heard and justice is delivered to those who deserve it.
Last year, it was also disclosed that Congress has a secret, taxpayer-funded program to deal with accusations of sexual misconduct against members of Congress or their staff. This “Office of Compliance” mandates counseling not for those accused of misconduct, but for those making accusations against powerful senators and representatives and their staffs. This office makes taxpayer-funded payments to accusers in exchange for signing confidentiality agreements. This secret program is known as the “shush fund.”
“The identities of lawmakers or their aides who reach misconduct settlements aren’t disclosed, effectively meaning there’s no warning system for other potential victims,” Politico reported last year. Many believe that Congress has an obligation to be transparent about these shush fund payments made in secret and using taxpayer funds, but so far calls for such transparency have fallen on deaf ears.