What We­in­stein Means for Women in In­dia

The Economic Times - - Breaking Ideas -

On Oc­to­ber 5, The New York Times pub­lished a story quot­ing many women who said one of Hol­ly­wood’s most pow­er­ful film pro­duc­ers, 65-year-old Har­vey We­in­stein, had sex­u­ally ha­rassed or as­saulted them. He had in­tim­i­dated or bought their si­lence. Then, The New Yorker pub­lished its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into charges of the preda­tory sex­ual be­hav­iour of the el­der of two We­in­stein broth­ers who founded Mi­ra­max, sold it and now con­trol The We­in­stein Com­pany and its off­shoots. These al­le­ga­tions date back nearly 30 years. Vic­tims in­clude An­gelina Jolie, Gwyneth Pal­trow, Asia Ar­gento, Rosanna Ar­quette, Ash­ley Judd, Mira Sorvino, as well as as­pir­ing ac­tresses, and fe­male em­ploy­ees, cur­rent and for­mer, of his com­pa­nies. The rev­e­la­tions have shaken Hol­ly­wood, a bas­tion of lib­eral, demo­cratic val­ues to its core. We­in­stein has been sacked, the Bri­tish Academy of Film and Tele­vi­sion Awards (Bafta) has sus­pended him, he might be stripped of his hon­orary awards, in­clud­ing a CBE, a Bri­tish award sec­ond only to a knight­hood. Hil­lary Clin­ton has con­demned him and bosses of the Os­cars are in a tizzy over the enor­mity of We­in­stein’s al­leged crimes. This raises a sin­is­ter ques­tion: if We­in­stein, in the spot­light of Hol­ly­wood, could threaten or bribe his way out of sex­ual crimes, if A-lis­ters like Jolie and Pal­trow were mute vic­tims of sex­ual abuse, what safety can In­dia guar­an­tee its work­ing women? Around 90% of them are in the un­or­gan­ised sec­tor, which treats em­ploy­ees as sub-hu­mans; stu­dents and women in the or­gan­ised work­force are ex­posed to daily sex­ual ha­rass­ment, quaintly termed ‘eve-teas­ing’. What the We­in­stein ex­pose shows is that laws and in­sti­tu­tions will not suf­fice to curb sex­ual pre­da­tion. Un­less women speak out and they get sup­port from so­cial ac­tivism and main­stream po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns.

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