Harry Potter actress Emma Watson described the lack of a rape crisis service in Northern Ireland as an “incredibly dire situation”.
She was speaking as the fund set up as a result of the ‘Time’s Up’ and #MeToo movements awarded more than one million pounds across the UK to help women who have experienced sexual harassment and abuse, it has announced.
A significant portion of teh money — £200,000 — will got to Women’s Aid Federation in Northern Ireland to establish a pilot rape crisis service.
The Justice and Equality Fund, supported by celebrities such as Emma Watson, Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jodie Whittaker, has awarded £1,027,699 in grants through the Advice and Support programme to resource seven women’s organisations in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Harry Potter actress Watson, who made a £1 million donation to the fund earlier this year, said: “Following funding cuts, Northern Ireland has been without a rape crisis service for the last 12 years. That’s an incredibly dire situation, now alleviated by the tireless efforts of organisers and your donations to the JEF crowdfunder: uk.gofundme.com/Justice-and-Equality-Fund.
“A huge thank you to each and every member of the public, and colleagues from my own industry, who have already donated.
“Much more needs to be raised so please give what you can, financial support is an instrumental act of solidarity with under-resourced organisations and campaign groups.
“Time’s Up UK will continue to work in unity with women’s rights and equality movements to campaign for systemic change. This year is just the beginning.”
Knightley said she was “so excited” to see the results of the journey to set up the fund.
“To be able to fund the first rape crisis service provision in Northern Ireland for 12 years feels like a huge step forward,” the star said.
“I hope we can continue to raise funds to support more of the frontline organisations doing such critical work with women and girls across the UK.”
Th fund is being managed by Rosa, the UK Fund for Women and Girls.
Its executive director Samantha Rennie said: “For far too long, women facing sexual harassment and abuse have faced a postcode lottery. Specialist support services are patchy and stretched, leaving many women with nowhere to turn for help.
“These grants will help ensure that no-one is left unsupported when they have been harassed.
“We’re delighted that so many individuals and Time’s Up have reached out in solidarity to make this happen. But we need to do more - to get these services on a stable footing, and tackle the culture that means abusers can act with impunity.”