LONDON - Time magazine has named the social movement aimed at raising awareness about sexual harassment and assault, epitomized by the #MeToo social media hashtag, as the most influential “person” in 2017, the publication announced on Wednesday.

“This is the fastest moving social change we’ve seen in decades, and it began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women - and some men, too - who came forward to tell their own stories,” Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal told NBC’s “Today” program, referring to them as “the silence breakers.”

The award is decided by Time’s editors and goes to the person or group who has had the most influence on the year's news for better or worse. 

"This is the fastest moving social change we have seen in decades," Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal told the programme. "It began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women - and some men, too - who came forward to tell their own stories,"The decision to give the award to the "silence breakers" is a nod to the scores of people who have come forward with allegations of rape, sexual assault and harassment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein fallout.

More than 50 women have publicly accused Weinstein - who produced Oscar-winning films Shakespeare in Love, The English Patient, and The Artist - of sexual harassment, assault, rape, and inappropriate behaviour that spans four decades. 

Since the allegations emerged in October, a stream of similar allegations have been made against powerful men across the globe. Social media has also been inundated with people using the #metoo hashtag to share their own stories of sexual misconduct and denounce such acts.Disgraced Hollywood film producer Weinstein, who was expelled from the Oscars and sacked from his namesake company, denies all allegations of non-consensual sexual acts.

 - The Independent