SAG-AFTRA announced in a virtual news conference on Thursday that it has launched SAG-AFTRA Safe Place, a new website to allow members to discreetly and privately report incidents of sexual harassment.
The website, which is available to both members of the actors guild and anyone who has worked on a SAG-AFTRA production, allows those who have suffered or witnessed sexual harassment or abuse to report the incident either anonymously or with contact information, as well as request the guild to either take action or to wait until the claimant is ready to move forward.
If desired, those who report will be able to speak with the SAG-AFTRA Equity & Inclusion team about what resources are available to them and what options they have for next course of action, including legal and social worker assistance and, if necessary, pressing criminal charges.
"This is the latest development in our ongoing effort to eliminate sexual harassment in the entertainment industry through innovative technology improvements, strategic partnerships, raising awareness of these issues, and expanding contract and legislative protections," SAG-AFTRA executive director David White said in a statement.
""This was a very important thing for us in terms of servicing our members, our membership," SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris added during a news conference. "The whole structure of it is based on the input from members within our union. And that was important for us because we want to make sure we are specific in helping to empower and make them feel safe."
In addition to the website launch, SAG-AFTRA announced new training and qualification standards for intimacy coordinators, who are tasked with overseeing scenes involving nudity and sex and ensuring that the actors involved are comfortable with what's required of them for each scene.
The new accreditation program requires at least 75 hours of training for intimacy coordinator training programs, with the lead trainer having at least 200 days of experience on set and teaching 60% of the course themselves. The training program must also demonstrate action plans to provide training opportunities for underrepresented groups including people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, seniors and people with disabilities. Submissions for training program accreditation will run from May 1 to July 31.
For individual coordinators, at least 60 days of work on productions is required to maintain certification in 2021, with that requirement being raised to 100 days in 2023. Intimacy coordinators that meet guild qualifications will be entered in a registry that studios and producers can use for their projects. SAG-AFTRA aims to have 60-70 fully qualified coordinators by the end of the year. Applications for the registry will run from August 1 to October 31.
SAG-AFTRA's new initiatives come three years after the creation of an anti-harassment commission led by Anita Hill that is developing its own system for reporting sexual abuse for workers across the entertainment industry. SAG-AFTRA says that their Safe Place site was created with the knowledge and support of the Hill commission.
"In terms of integrating with the database and names and information, the safety and confidentiality of the information that members have when they are connected to the union because of the information that we have, and the dispersal of the information throughout the teams that are involved in any sort of intervention. That was something better for us to build our own," White said.