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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Baftas 2018: Stars prepare to don black as Emma Watson pledges £1m to help sexual harassment victims

Nearly 200 actresses have signed an open letter calling for an end to sexual harassment ahead of the ceremony

Emma Watson is backing a British film industry plan to tackle bullying and sexual harassment. AP Photo
Emma Watson is backing a British film industry plan to tackle bullying and sexual harassment. AP Photo

British and Irish stars of the big screen have called for an end to sexual harassment in the workplace ahead of the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) on Sunday evening.

At the glamorous event held at London’s Royal Albert Hall, female stars and other guests are expected to wear black in solidarity with victims of sexual abuse.

The move follows the “Time’s Up” demonstration at the Golden Globes in Hollywood, in which stars wore black on the red carpet in protest at the Harvey Weinstein abuse allegations.

Ahead of the ceremony nearly 200 actresses, including Emma Thompson, Emilia Clarke, Saoirse Ronan and Olivia Colman, signed an open letter published in the Observer, which said the BAFTAs were a time to "celebrate this tremendous moment of solidarity and unity across borders by coming together and making this movement international".

“This movement is bigger than just a change in our industry alone. In the very near past, we lived in a world where sexual harassment was an uncomfortable joke; an unavoidable awkward part of being a girl or a woman.”

Stars including Saoirse Ronan (far right) wore black in solidarity with sexual harassment victims at the Golden Globes in January. Mike Nelson/ EPA
Stars including Saoirse Ronan (far right) wore black in solidarity with sexual harassment victims at the Golden Globes in January. Mike Nelson/ EPA

“If you have said ‘time’s up’, if the stories you have read in the papers have resonated and distressed you – join us in shifting the dial,” the statement concludes. “Let’s make 2018 the year that time was up on sexual harassment and abuse. This is your moment too.”

Harry Potter actress and one of the letter’s signatories Emma Watson has pledged £1 million (Dh5.15m) towards a new fund which is aimed at helping victims of harassment.

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Set up by the women who signed the letter as well as a group of 160 activists, academics and charity workers, the UK Justice and Equality Fund will aid victims in obtaining “support and justice”.

British actors Keira Knightley and Tom Hiddleston have both donated £10,000 to the fund.

Some of the stars attending Sunday’s BAFTAs have opted to bring fellow activists as their red carpet companions instead of their partners.

Also attending the ceremony will be the Duke of Cambridge, who is president of the British film academy, and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge.

Speculation has been rife in the British press in the lead up to the event over whether the Duchess will join in the black out, which could be seen as a breach of royal protocol.