In June 2020, Soma Sara established the Everyone’s Invited website to gather testimonials of survivors of sexual abuse and violence with an aim to eradicating rape culture. Using social media, Soma shared her experience of rape culture and within one week she received over 300 anonymous responses detailing similar experiences.
Following the murder of Sarah Everard the number of testimonials made on the website increased significantly with many schools including over 50 state schools, over 400 independent schools and over 80 universities being identified in connection with those testimonials. As a result of such identification some schools have begun their own investigations. Ofsted has announced a review of schools and colleges to consider whether appropriate safeguarding processes are in place.
IICSA has already looked at the issue of abuse in schools and no doubt will include consideration of the same issues which are highlighted on the Everyone’s Invited website in its final report. However, whereas much of the focus of IICSA has been on issues of sexual abuse over a long period of time, the testimonials submitted to Everyone’s Invited highlight generally more recent abusive behaviour, fuelled often by the use of mobile phones and social media. This was of course something IICSA has considered in its Internet Investigation report. It is also an issue which the long awaited Online Harms legislation is meant to tackle.
Everyone’s Invited not only highlights the problem of culture and attitudes today but also raises a number of issues which will we consider in a series of blogs. For organisations and their insurers will they face claims due to matters which have been reported? If so what should be done now to investigate. What about employment obligations when there are allegations made against members of staff? What about data protection and defamation? What should the social media companies be doing?
Tomorrow we will consider some of the immediate themes and actions being taken.