Mariska Hargitay Calls Out Harvey Weinstein Ruling, Gives Fiery Speech on Sexual Abuse Survivors: ‘Risky to Let Women Speak? You’re Damn Right It Is’

Mariska Hargitay Calls Out Harvey Weinstein Ruling, Gives Fiery Speech on Sexual Abuse Survivors: ‘Risky to Let Women Speak? You’re Damn Right It Is’

Mariska Hargitay's Fiery Speech: It's Risky to Let Women Speak

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star Mariska Hargitay gave a powerful speech on Thursday in New York during Variety‘s Power of Women event, presented by Lifetime. The two-time Emmy winner, who celebrated 25 years of “SVU” this year, was honored at the event for her work as an advocate for sexual assault survivors.

Hargitay took the stage at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum following an introduction by her close friend, Glenn Close. After many years of acting, “she still finds the heart, the art and the power in her craft,” Close said of Hargitay.

With the New York rape conviction for Harvey Weinstein recently overturned, Hargitay themed her speech around the impossibility of reversing her own strongly-held convictions about listening to survivors and fighting back.

“I want to talk today about reversing convictions,” Hargitay said. “It’s impossible to reverse my conviction that survivors matter, that what happened to us matters, and that our society must respond to survivors more compassionately, more holistically, with a deeper, more nuanced understanding of what healing means.”

She called upon those in the entertainment industry to “use your power as a catalyst for change” and “examine how your actions either contribute to either keeping the system the way it’s always been or to change it.”

Hargitay also spoke of the irony that Weinstein’s conviction was overturned because “too many” victims testified at his trial.

“I do want to say something about the overturned Harvey Weinstein conviction. Specifically about the reason it was overturned: Too many women’s voices. Too many women were allowed to speak,” she said, referring to the conviction being overturned after the court found testimony against Weinstein was unfairly allowed based on allegations that weren’t part of the case.

“Risky to let women speak? You’re damn right it is. Too many women speaking brings change,” she said. The backlash to #MeToo is evidence of “how powerful those voices are,” she continued.

In 2004, Hargitay launched the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization whose mission is to change society’s response and the narrative around sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, while also supporting survivors and their families.


The foundation has launched numerous programs including the End the Backlog initiative, prioritizing eliminating the massive backlog of untested rape kits in police departments.

“It’s impossible to reverse my conviction that we must listen to survivors,” Hargitay continued, talking about the work of the Joyful Heart Foundation.

“It’s impossible reverse my conviction, and the conviction of my extraordinary team at Joyful Heart, that the backlog of untested rape kits can be brought to zero, that the testing of all new kits must be mandated, that we need a statewide kit tracking system, and that survivors have the right to access the status of their kits,” she said.

“Her decades of steadfast advocacy on behalf of survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse has truly changed how we all talk about these crimes,” says Joyful Heart executive director Robyn Mazur. “Her passion and encouragement has been the driving force at the organization, and every day I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish next.”

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