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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Cosby conviction and Kavanaugh revelations inspire protests in US

Women and men walked out of their workplaces on Monday sharing photos on social media using the hashtag #BelieveSurvivors

 A second allegation of sexual misconduct emerged against Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday. AP
 A second allegation of sexual misconduct emerged against Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday. AP

Protesters left their workplaces in the United States on Monday in support of Dr Christine Ford and Deborah Ramirez, who have been thrust into the spotlight after making allegations of sexual misconduct against a Supreme Court nominee. The protest also coincided with the sentencing of actor Bill Cosby for sexual assault - allegations against him and others in the public eye sparked the #MeToo movement.

Dr Ford has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her at a 1982 house party and on Sunday, Ms Ramirez said the man hoping to be the next member of the Supreme Court exposed himself to her during a party at Yale University.

A call to protest from celebrity-backed organisation Times Up asked participants to wear black to the workplace and leave their offices at 1pm Eastern Time (9pm UAE) to show support for the women making claims against Mr Kavanaugh and other survivors of sexual assault. Other women’s rights organisations also joined the rallying call.

The protests came just one day before Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home 14 years ago.

When the time came, social media was abuzz with people using the protest hashtag, #BelieveSurvivors, accompanied by photos and hashtags for other campaigns.

Celebrities got behind the cause, including entire production teams for hit TV shows and famous directors and actors.

Ordinary people also took time out from their work days to stand with Dr Ford and other alleged victims of sexual assault, many holding signs bearing their thoughts.

Aisha Cook, 44, a primary school teacher from New York walked out with colleagues.

“I walked out today in support of the many girls who are assaulted every day and are ashamed and afraid to speak up.

“These girls must be shown that they have support, especially from the women in their lives. I walked out with my colleagues. Between us, we have siblings, children and friends who are survivors. We wanted to take a stand for them.

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Read more:

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PhD student Samatha Apgar, 27, also walked out. She told The National that coming forward takes “tremendous courage” and she wanted to show support for survivors. She felt especially buoyed by the presence of her male colleagues at the walk out

“Obviously the issue that precipitated the walk out today is the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the accusation of sexual assault by Dr Ford.

“ I think that inappropriate and illegal behaviour has been perpetrated by men on both sides of the political aisle and in all walks of life and it needs to stop. I demand more from men in my country.”

Many men also took to the streets and social media to show their support for the cause.

“Sexual assault is so damn common it's unreal,” said Almary Amador, 34 from California, who walked out with medical workers when it was safe to do so for their patients. “It shouldn't matter when someone speaks up.”

“What makes Dr Ford's testimony less believable than the testimony coming out with those abused by priests? We have seen time and time again that just because someone is labelled an outstanding citizen doesn't mean that that person isn't capable of doing bad things.”

Dr Ford and Mr Kavanaugh will give evidence to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.