Debra Katz Joins “The Forum” to Examine Societal Issues Surrounding Sexual Assault

October 19, 2017

Katz Banks Kumin partner Debra Katz appeared as a guest on the NPR radio program, The Forum, for Northern California based news station, KQED. Host Michael Krasny moderated a discussion entitled “#Metoo: What’s Next in the Conversation about Sexual Assault,” referencing the “#Metoo” campaign – a social media movement working to highlight the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault. During the show, guests also examined why sexual violence occurs and how society can prevent systemic sexual harassment from pervading our communities and workplaces.

Ms. Katz first spoke on why victims of sexual harassment are frequently silenced. Mandatory arbitration clauses protect companies who look at settlements as a normal cost of doing business. Victims agree to move on quietly and companies protect harassers whom they consider indispensable to their business success. Furthermore, internal resources such as HR departments are “often ineffective,” according to Ms. Katz, “and seen as an internal police force.”

The conversation shifted to various factors surrounding the epidemic, including the nature of why sexual harassment and assault happen in the first place. For instances involving men like Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly, sexual harassment is far more than simply inappropriate comments, or misunderstandings. “Sexual harassment is about abuse of power, and abusing power through treating women in sexually violent manners,” says Ms. Katz. “Until we see women at the tops of corporations with meaningful representation in powerful roles, people in positions of authority will continue their predatory behavior and abuse of power.”

Ms. Katz was joined by Adama Iwu, a government affairs director, Audra Williams, a writer, and co-founder of Survivors Eradicating Rape Culture, Wagatwe Wanjuki.

You can listen to the podcast version of the program here. (Debra Katz joins the program at 9:42.)