Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Decades later: Anita Hill and Marie Collins. Has anything really changed?

By Philip Foley

Two recent articles in the New York Times caught my eye.  The first was about Anita Hill the reluctant witness in the explosive Thomas confirmation hearings back in 1991. I remember watching the hearings as Ms. Hill was grilled in excruciatingly graphic detail by an all-white, all-male Senate Committee about her assertion of sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas.  I believed her then and I believe her now. My question is will she fare any better in the public eye two decades later as the movie of her life Anita opens.
It is unlikely when you still have statement by women like Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network, an advocacy group indicating that “I honestly think she’s just making it up,”.

In the second article about the Catholic Pope naming members to an Anti-Abuse Group
The article stated that the committee will include four female members, including Marie Collins, an Irish woman who was abused as a girl in the 1960s and later became a national activist to help other victims.
Since the Catholic Church has been accused of covering up sexual abuse by its Priests for at least five decades what real expectations can one have of the success of this commission. 
I believe it is best summed up in the article by the statement made by The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a group founded in the United States that has now become international, said the panel “perpetuates the self-serving myth that Catholic officials need more information about abuse and cover-ups.” It added: “They don’t. They need courage. They know what’s right” already.
I wish Ms. Hill and Ms. Collins all the best in their fight for justice and I applaud their courage to speak in spite of overwhelming odds. It is my hope that the public as a whole has evolved in the understanding of abuse.  My experience is it has not.