#LetHerSpeak goes global as people around the world back the campaign

HOLLYWOOD actress Alyssa Milano has joined the #LetHerSpeak campaign for law reform so that sexual assault survivors in Tasmania and the Northern Territory can waive their right to anonymity in the media, if they choose.

The #LetHerSpeak campaign was launched yesterday and overnight members of the public and celebrities joined the campaign.

Under existing law, no one can reveal the identity of a sexual assault survivor in Tasmania or the Northern Territory, even with the sexual assault survivor’s full co-operation and consent. Victims say the law protects perpetrators by silencing their victims.

Celebrities including Hollywood actor Spencer Breslin best known for his role in Disney’s The Kid, Return to Neverland and The Cat in the Hat and Gracie Gillam, known for her role in the Teen Beach movie series, have lent their support to the campaign.

Alyssa Milano, whose #MeToo tweet last year prompted an outpouring of sexual assault disclosure, will also appear on a #LetHerSpeak special airing Sunday night on 60 Minutes.

The stars of The Hunting Ground documentary, Annie E. Clark and Andrea Pino have also lent their support to the campaign.

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A petition hosted on Megaphone has also been signed more than 1000 times in the first 12 hours and on social media men and women have begun posting photos holding signs saying #LetHerSpeak.

News.com.au has received #LetHerSpeak photos from places as far away as New York, Los Angeles and even Thailand.

The campaign is in collaboration with End Rape On Campus Australia and Marque Lawyers.

Jane Doe, 23, says she is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.

“It’s all very surreal. I’m overwhelmed by the support for this cause, a little taken aback, but in the most positive way,” Jane Doe said.

“It gives me immense hope that we will be able to affect change on a larger scale. I keep thinking of all the boys and girls out there who don’t have the same resources and how honoured I am to be fighting this fight for them so that one day they do.

“A lot of people have been fighting for this behind the scenes for a very long time [to help me speak out and tell my story].”

“To see all of this finally come to fruition, and have it backed by so many wonderful, inspiring people, is really exciting.”

In 2010, Jane Doe, aged 15 at the time, was groomed, molested and sexually assaulted by her then 58-year-old high school maths teacher Nicolaas Bester.

Bester pleaded guilty in 2011 and was sentenced to two years and six months in jail for the crimes against Jane Doe.

He was also found to be in possession of 28 images of child pornography for which he was sentenced to a further four months jail.

In 2015, after being released from prison, Bester reoffended by making child exploitation material for which he was sentenced to an additional four months in jail.

Now an adult, Jane Doe is ready to tell her story. She wishes to do so under her real name to shatter the stigma and shame around sexual assault. However the Tasmanian Evidence Act prohibits any publication from naming a survivor of sexual assault, even with the victim’s full consent.

Yesterday, in solidarity with Jane Doe, high profile rape and sexual assault survivors and survivor advocates from around the country added their names to the campaign including Tara Moss, Saxon Mullins, Bri Lee, Jane Caro, Joanna Williams, Sharna Bremner, MP Jenny Aitchison, Van Badham, Codie Bell, Jannika Jacky, Steve Fisher and Freya Willis.

“I believe the laws in Tasmania should come into line with other states, to reflect a survivors’ right to tell her or his own story” says Tara Moss, who is a best-selling author, human rights advocate and international model.

“We have the right, as human beings, to have a voice and to tell our stories if we choose to. Gagging survivors, even for the most well meaning purposes, is hugely problematic and sends a message that they have no agency, no control over their own stories and their own lives, just as they had no choice in what was done to them.

“To Jane Doe, you are brave and you deserve to be heard. Thank you for your voice.”

The Tasmanian Attorney-General, Elise Archer, has responded to a request from news.com.au saying that the “Tasmanian Government is considering Section 194K (of the Tasmanian Evidence Act) to ensure that it appropriately protects the rights of all victims of sexual assault.

“We are extremely mindful that care must be taken in this area of law, as it is important that any reform strikes the appropriate balance between protecting victims of sexual assault and the paramount public interest in open justice.’’

Nina Funnel is a Walkley Award winning journalist, anti sexual assault advocate and a director of End Rape On Campus Australia.

To support the campaign, sign and share the petition here.

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