Editor’s comment: Sentiments in charity’s letters are shocking
- Credit: Archant
The letter sent by the Stuart Low Trust to an alleged victim of sexual harassment is astonishing.
And the message it sends to other charity users, and indeed to anyone who has suffered harassment, is inexcusable.
I understand the charity’s wish to be aware about allegations of crime taking place on its premises. But how this woman deals with her ordeal is her decision alone. Is it any wonder she chose not to go through the trust’s own internal complaints procedure when this is how it has gone on to treat her?
One of the most troubling (and, frankly, most bizarre) things in the letter is the suggestion that going to the police in future will somehow damage this woman’s credibility. The Met should be praised for the recent work they have done to change attitudes and I doubt they’d be too pleased by Ms Kalmanowitz’s dismissal of unspecified future allegations – even as she appears to anticipate them.
To make matters worse, the woman is then asked not to provoke the man she accuses of harassing her. That attitude has no place in 2017. The fear of being blamed is one reason people are still reluctant to report this type of crime.
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It is a shame for a charity to be caught up in something so uncharitable; the trust has been doing good work for 20 years and I have no doubt that its services truly are a lifeline to many, as Ms Kalmanowitz told us in December.
But that cannot excuse punishing and belittling a woman who has been brave enough to report harassment. The truth of her claims is a matter for the police and courts, not the charity – regardless of what Ms Kalmanowitz believes has taken place she owes a basic level of compassion and respect to this woman, and she has not shown it. The Stuart Low Trust should retract these letters or it risks alienating some of the people it has done good work to reach.
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