The Weinstein case, the courage of witnesses, the judgement and the 23-year jail sentence are extraordinary — or are they?
His New York conviction, the prospect of another in Los Angeles, must send a very positive, over-due message about the reach and force of justice to victims of sexual predators. However, the scale of his attacks, and that his power allowed him to hide in plain view for so very long, is alarming.
Sadly, his conviction may prove no more than symbolic for many of those struggling to fend off a Weinstein — especially if those dangerous individuals are rich enough to buy victims’ silence and then move along to their next target.
In 2018, the CSO recorded 2,771 sex crimes, 2,266 against women. Many are still in our courts’ system but the conviction rate, and the tortuous process of even getting to court, hardly supports those who might confront an Irish Weinstein.
Neither did the situation where the Garda sex crimes unit in Cork was, until recently, unable to take on new cases for over a year because of staffing issues.
That is the darker side of the story but there are positive initiatives that will, in time, bring about the deep cultural change that made the Weinstein conviction more possible than it might have been decades ago.
The education campaigns around consent are an example. The Weinstein conviction is a great if belated victory but it might be best to see it as a stepping stone rather than a conclusion.