#MeToo – India
With the conclusion of the first month of the sudden wave of the Me Too movement in India, a lot of powerful men have been outed, with their real predatory natures being uncovered for the world to see by victims all over the country. The movement was triggered in India by Tanushree Datta who made the identity of her abuser, public. The man was none other than the formerly respected actor, Nana Patekar. Thus began an arduous month of hearing painful stories of women all over the country as they brought into light, the true colours of some of the most influential men in the media industry, from journalists to actors, from filmmakers to singers, no stone was left unturned. Amidst all of this, we have all learnt an important lesson, that is to never let a person’s great contributions in their field of work, blind one into believing they’re a good person with good intentions who can do no wrong.
The movement is mostly confined to social media, with many women coming forward with their stories on different platforms. However, due to several factors like barriers of languages, regions, classes, etc. the movement has been restricted to elite or privileged women of the urban/metropolitan cities of the country. Therefore, there are bound to be a million more unheard stories that have been brushed under the carpet, in the bigger rural parts of the country. The main point of the movement toady, is for companies and organisations to create stronger rules protecting employees from sexual harassment and develop sexual conflict committees that look into these matters more seriously and also do thorough background checks before hiring.
With men like Nana Patekar, Alok Nath, Vikas Bahl, Sajid Khan, Vairamuthu, and a lot more such powerful individuals exposed with truly disturbing stories highlighting their behaviour, one would start questioning the state of the entire industry. Who is to be trusted anymore? Whom can you put your faith in? Trick question. Because the answer is really nobody. Admiration for an artist’s art is one thing. Putting them on a pedestal where you start worshipping the ground they walk on, thereby defending their name in such matters, is a totally other thing.
Amidst all the chaos and disturbing revelations brought forth by this movement, there have also been many who have used this movement as ammunition for their personal benefit. Fabricating stories to support their cause and garnering hate for the accused online, they have sailed through, easy as pie. Therefore it is also very important to ensure that we don’t encourage such life-ruining advances from the likes of such people, yearning for controversy and fulfilling personal vendettas. The accused hardly even get exonerated publicly once they’ve been proved innocent and there are rarely those that gain their dignity back in the first place. That’s not to say most or even a significant amount of these cases are false. The stats fall somewhere between 1/10 rape cases being falsely filed (wherein only 1/6 are even reported).
How can you, as a spectator of this movement, who doesn’t fall into either side—abuser or victim, contribute significantly to this movement whilst ensuring you aren’t promoting false cases and also not desensitising yourself to real ones? There’s really no way to know 100% if the side you’re choosing is right. The only thing you can do is make sure your information is coming from reliable sources that have served you in good faith for a long time. Either that, or do your own research about a case before diving head first into a stance for/against the victim. When you hear about a new case, don’t instantly form a judgment or your opinion about the matter before looking into what each party involved has to say. Listen, conduct research, and then analyse all the information before you take a stand.
The last thing you can do is turn a blind eye to the millions of people who have faced injustice over the years and are finally finding their voice to come through with their stories. Ignorance is not bliss. Educate yourself to different cases and silently support victims (if you’re afraid of doing so vocally). And most of all, don’t jump onto a bandwagon without knowing full well, everything it entails. It may look inviting, but it’s the last thing our country needs.
The main point of this movement is to give a platform to those who have been wronged before and didn’t have a platform to speak out then, and to motivate several others and remind them, that just because their abuser is socially/financially powerful, they shouldn’t let him/her get away with what he/she did, to find the courage to report such misdoings and revive faith in the spirit of oneness and unity amongst the country and its countrymen, enough that they’re aware, that anytime they’re ready to speak, we’re willing to hear.
Article by Sarah Zia.
Clipart source : www.preview.ph