Cultural institutions and harassment

Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys: training workshops. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys: training workshops. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill


Sir, – In a positive development, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has moved to begin training workshops for the boards of the national cultural institutions and agencies following recent reports of bullying and gender-based harassment.

As part of this, the Minister should consider section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 (public sector duty), which places a responsibility on public bodies to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the human rights of their employees, customers, service users and everyone affected by their policies and strategic plans.

We know that one of the enabling factors for these unsurprising (if you are female), yet also quite remarkable reports of gender-based harassment is the systemic gender inequality throughout Irish society and found in all sectors, not just the arts. Unless we tackle this more robustly, and utilise every tool available, some people in power will continue to extend their sexist and stereotypical views of women into darker actions of sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

However, for women out there who feel angry or depressed or plain fed-up that these reported actions remain part of our world now, in 2017, think instead of the power these brave women have given you.

Stand up for other women around you, mentor them and propel them forward.

We cannot control the behaviour or motivations of others but if women really shared power equally, those impulses might be diminished, there would be fewer opportunities for gender-based harassment and the “blind eye” might find it can actually see again. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 7.