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Stop 2018: UK women execs call for end to “endemic” abuse

Four female UK music industry figures have called for 2018 to become the year when “bullying, misogyny, sexual harassment, assault and rape in the music industry stops” – after appearing on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme this morning to denounce the sexual misconduct they say is “endemic” to the British music business.

The four women – artist manager Yasmin Lajoie, music supervisor Michelle de Vries, artist Chloe Howl and a singer-songwriter, ‘Amy’, who spoke on the condition of anonymity – say they went on the programme to “tell our stories. We wanted to let women and men know that you are not alone. If you have experienced a sexual assault or have been made to leave your job because of bullying and harassment you are not the one at fault, however bad you have been made to feel.”

“You’d be hard pressed to find a woman working in the industry today who’s never been a victim of sexual harassment or abuse,” 29-year-old Yasmin Lajoie – who, after being assaulted by a senior male colleague, began to catalogue stories of sexual assault and harassment in the industry – told Derbyshire.

“I expected stories of sexual harassment – but what I’ve actually received are stories of rape happening on company property, men insisting on oral sex from young women, men seriously assaulting women, raping them in apartments owned by major music companies,” she said.

De Vries spoke of feeling “like a sex slave” after being made to stay with an abusive older male colleague when she took a job abroad. “He would walk into my room with no clothes on. He would masturbate in front of me and say, ‘I know you really like it,'” she said.

Howl, meanwhile, said she feels like “one of the lucky ones” after ‘only’ experiencing groping and sexual harassment.

The four have now launched a campaign, Stop 2018, and are inviting other music industry professionals, both male and female, to share their stories of sexual harassment and abuse.

“We believe that we have to stand up and end the toxic culture of silence”

“The decision to appear on the show was not taken lightly,” they say in a joint statement. “It has been painful and has caused us individuals a great deal of anxiety and fear over the past few weeks. We believe that we have to stand up and end the toxic culture of silence around the issue.”

IQ’s own investigation into sexual misconduct in the live industry in October found many women working in the concert business have been subject to inappropriate behaviour from male counterparts, with most agreeing on the need to create a culture when women aren’t scared to speak out against the perpetrators of abuse.

With Stop 2018, Lajoie, de Vries, Howl and Amy have issued four demands with which they hope to drag the industry out of the “dark ages” and make their goal of ending inequality and sexual misconduct in 2018 a reality. They are:

1. That industry trade organisations such as UK Music set up a safe place where anyone working in the industry can speak in confidence knowing that they will not be the ones who have to suffer repercussions.

2. All music companies to rethink their strategies, and stop working with individuals and other companies who exhibit any predatory or bullying behaviour whether it be an employee, an artist, a producer, or a manager, a lawyer, a publicist or an agent or anyone associated with the business, however powerful and successful they may be. We are aware of organisations promoting individuals, knowing they they have had sexual assault allegations made against them. This has to stop.

3. We believe the lack of respect women receive starts at the very beginning of their careers and are calling for women to be paid the same as men and to receive the same benefits in the work place. We want to see an end to the common practice that when men and women are hired at the same time, the man is often given more assistance and offered better opportunities to advance their careers – we want to see women offered the same promotion opportunities as men.

4. We are calling for an end to managers and labels telling artists they need to wear provocative clothing to or flirt with executives to be successful.

To sign up to Stop 2018, or share your own story of sexual assault or bullying, visit stop2018.com/join-our-campaign.


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