The “Protecting Young Victims from Sex Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017” is a fantastic step in the right direction. It’s great to see Congress come together and address this issue. It’s tragic that this bill is even necessary and that it took one man assaulting over 100 women for action to be taken. Among other things, this bill requires adults working with governing bodies to report suspicions of sexual assault to law enforcement. But it’s important to note that young victims/ athletes are not the only people that need to be protected.
Forced arbitration and non-disclosure agreements are commonplace these days, including in most employment contracts. What this means is that a victim of sexual harassment or assault in the workplace can be forced to keep quiet about the situation. This can cause harassment to fester as it keeps the victims silent and protects the attackers. We saw how a non-disclosure worked to silence McKayla Maroney speaking against Larry Nassar as part of her settlement. She was silenced, and her attacker got to keep his job and continue to assault more victims. How frequently does this happen? We will never know because the purpose of secret settlements is to make sure no one knows it’s happening.
This is an issue that Gretchen Carlson, a victim of sexual harassment with a non-disclosure agreement, and a bipartisan group of mostly female Congressmen have brought to Congress. The goal is to pass legislation that makes forced arbitration and non-disclosure agreements not applicable in sexual harassment cases. One can hope that a bipartisan deal can be worked out for this. If not, it’s up to the individual states to make sure victims of sexual harassment are never forced to be silent again. They suffer enough and shouldn’t be forced to be without their voice too.
Click here to view Gretchen Carlson on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee discussing forced arbitration and the importance of coming together to make a better outcome for victims. It is important to note that while this is discussed as a woman's issue in this clip, men can be victims of sexual harassment as well and we cannot leave them out of this discussion either.