I stayed away from blogging about the #MeToo movement that started in the US last October with sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, not because it didn’t resonate but because I felt it wouldn’t change anything in Hollywood.. some big names crashed from the pedestal but many others continue living their life like before. There was some ripple effect in India in 2017 but it has become a social media movement recently with Tanushree Datta, a former Miss India and a Bollywood star accusing Nana Patekar of sexual misconduct during the filming of her movie “Horn Ok Please”.
The one thing that I have realised over the past four years is that any social movement that starts around elections (assembly or general) is usually suspect and one needs to wait for all the information to come out in the public domain before taking sides. Sometimes, its a communal movement, sometimes its about the beef ban, sometimes its about farmers agitating and this time it seems to be the “#MeToo” campaign. Just to put the bottom line on top – am very serious about the “#MeToo” campaign. I fully support the idea that women need to speak up against sexual harassment and sooner than they do. Sexual harassment is an ugly horrendous reality in the lives of women across the world, not just in the film and political world but also in the corporate sector inspite of strong laws.
What I don’t support is the social media/paid media-channel-endorsed, urban only #MeToo movement and here’s why –
- Will an Aishwarya Rai or a Katrina Kaif ever share their #MeToo moments with a certain super-cool much adored (sickening!!) Bollywood Khan ???
- Will a star struck audience stop applauding the bastard who jokes about how a woman walks after being raped ???
- Will the clown prince of CONgress be ever questioned about his alleged role in the Sukanya Devi case ???
- Will a certain Mr. Jogi (politician) come clean about why his daughter committed suicide and if the abettor’s name is taken will the judiciary and police take cognisance ???
- Will Phaneesh Murthy stop getting CEO and board member kinda jobs ? He is a serial offender…
- Will ex-TERI chairman R K Pachauri be sent to jail, if the allegations are proven right? After two years, the Delhi court has recently asked for charges to be framed against him. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/teri-sexual-harassment-case-court-orders-framing-of-charges-against-rk-pachauri-1339971-2018-09-14.
- What was done to N D Tiwari or a certain Mr. Singhvi or the utterly reprehensible Amar Singh and will anything be done?
- And will anyone dare to point fingers at a Big Bollywood icon who famously quipped that he was neither named Tanushree nor Nana so cannot comment on the whole issue ?
- And again will anyone dredge up the harassment reports from starlets of the bygone era and point out the misdeeds of a certain celebrity author’s now dead superstar father ???
Till any one or a couple of the above happens, the #MeToo movement will not gain traction and it will not have the desired effect. Also genuine cases of harassment don’t get justice because a bunch of folks use the campaign to gain publicity or settle scores after enjoying the benefits that came from doing sexual favours to powerful people. Thats not sexual harassment – that’s “using” the man to get ahead.
The stories of sexual harassment are heart wrenching and sickening – I couldn’t read Vinta Nanda’s account of how Alok Nath harassed and raped her. Its horrifying that she had to live with that for so many years. I wish the case is investigated, charges filed and the culprit is hanged, no less. But God forbid, for a moment, think of the opposite situation – what if Alok Nath has been wrongly implicated ?? What then? Are we ready to hang Vinta Nanda? Justice has to be meted out without prejudice or preference.
Many famous names are tumbling out as part of the #MeToo campaign – M J Akbar, Nana Patekar, Vairamuthu, Sajid Khan, Rajat Kapoor, Vikas Bahl, Vinod Dua and just today, even Soli Sorabjee !! Its good that women are speaking up and putting names out in the public domain, but I wish they also file cases and make their allegations official. That’s when this movement will make sense. Its exactly like the draconian rape laws that came about after the Nirbhaya incident. Some women have used the law to threaten their boyfriends, spouse or bosses and even sent perfectly innocent men to jail just to take revenge or get monetary benefits. That’s what weakens the movement. :(:(
Almost every little girl and women everywhere in the world has had to face sexual harassment of some kind in some sphere of life – it could be stalking, inappropriate touching, lewd jokes or the extreme of rape. Also many little boys and men across the world have to fend off inappropriate sexual advances or succumb to the trauma. The LGBT community is the worst affected – they not only face discrimination, but horrific sexual harassment as well. #MeToo is too narrowly focussed and it has to take a legal recourse to become a relevant movement. The time is ripe, awareness is being created and it shouldn’t just fizzle out. Teach every child about inappropriate touches and hang every sexual predator – that’s when the world will become a better place to live in.
Firmly in support of the harassed … speak up, stand up and fight the good fight. Don’t give in.