The harrowing experiences of dozens of women were partly vindicated last week when Bill Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

It was an impactful victory for the #MeToo movement, potentially paving the way for more convictions of powerful men. But it also highlighted the barriers that confront women who come forward with sexual assault allegations.

The Cosby conviction was bolstered in no small part by an outsized number of accusers, the persistent media attention paid to the case, and the determination of the prosecutor’s team.

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Countless allegations don’t gain any legal traction, and many women don’t have the resources to fight to put someone in jail.

That’s a fundamental miscarriage of justice that the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, formed in the wake of the #MeToo movement, is actively working to change.

Since January, the group has provided legal help to more than 2,500 women from more than 60 industries, according to Refinery29.

The fund works by pairing women with local lawyers who often provide legal services pro bono or for a reduced price, NPR reports, and it’s showing that the #MeToo movement is interested in achieving justice for all women.

“The more people who come out and say ‘me too,’ we will not only change society, but we will change the law,” Roberta Kaplan, one of the cofounders of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, said during a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival.

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The scope of sexual violence and harassment in the US is staggering.  

Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, and more than 27% of women in the US report having been harassed at work.

These abuses are consistent around the world and reflect the broader issue of gender inequality.

Globally, one in three women experience physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, women earn far less than men in most countries for doing the same work, and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women.

Further, 28 underage girls are married off each minute, and 131 million girls are currently out of school.

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These inequalities are reinforced by legal systems that systematically fail to prosecute sexual abuse.

In the US, only six out of every 1,000 perpetrators of sexual violence go to prison, according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

The Time’s Up fund is fighting to end this injustice and has so far received an outpouring of support.

In the first two months of fundraising, the group raised $21 million.

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Now that money is being used to make sure the Cosby conviction no longer seems like an anomaly, but instead becomes the norm.

Global Citizen campaigns to end sexual violence around the world and you can take action on this issue here.


Demand Equity

#MeToo Legal Fund Has Already Helped More Than 2,500 Women

By Joe McCarthy