THE #METOO MOVE­MENT

Woman's Era - - Editorial - ed­i­[email protected]­ansera.com We

The move­ment has seen women ar­tic­u­late their ex­pe­ri­ences of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, of­ten at the hands of pow­er­ful and well-es­tab­lished men. What is strik­ing about the move­ment is how it has com­pelled all of us to con­front sys­tem­atic male be­hav­iour that may some­times be dif­fi­cult to de­fine as a le­gal of­fence, but which is none­the­less, preda­tory and sex­u­ally abu­sive. Is­sues in­volv­ing hi­er­ar­chies in the work­place, dif­fer­ences in age and in­flu­ence, the power ex­er­cised by men who are highly re­garded in their pro­fes­sions and the abuse of their in­flu­ence — is­sues that were long sup­pressed and sim­ply not talked about — have at last found pub­lic ut­ter­ance. It is a time of up­heaval, when old pieties have been ex­posed as morally and eth­i­cally bank­rupt and old codes of be­hav­iour sit shown to be ex­ploita­tive and un­ac­cept­able. The # Metoo move­ment has brought sub­merged ex­pe­ri­ences to the sur­face, and given in­di­vid­u­als a fresh vo­cab­u­lary with which to ex­press what, for all th­ese years seemed sim­ply in­ex­press­ible.

In the wake of th­ese al­le­ga­tions, many men have lost their jobs, con­tracts and pro­fes­sional op­por­tu­ni­ties. They and their fam­i­lies are also suf­fer­ing. It is for the courts to en­sure a fair trial and de­liver jus­tice, at which point we will know the truth.

Pro­vi­sion of defama­tion make no­ble hes­i­tant to re­sort to make triv­i­al­i­ties a sub­ject for al­le­ga­tion. While list­ing the hard­ships faced by the ac­cused, one should in­clude the long de­lays in ob­tain­ing jus­tice as one of the fac­tors. But the crim­i­nal defama­tion case is not the only one un­der which the ac­cused suf­fers this as­pect of the ju­di­cial sys­tem. The rem­edy is to make jus­tice speedy. If courts lean to­wards wel­fare of peo­ple, many rights ac­tivists would have been freed and cases against them would have been re­solved.

In In­dia, women are the main tar­get for eve teas­ing, mo­lesta­tion, rape, acid throw­ing, rag­ging and hon­our killing and that is un­be­com­ing of a coun­try where women are most re­spected in a so­ci­ety. A new study has found that nine in 10 women have suf­fered some form of sex­ual dis­crim­i­na­tion at the work place, which is alarm­ing and In­dia is not an ex­cep­tion to this. The re­searchers at the Michi­gan Univer­sity found that 10 per cent of the women sur­veyed had ex­pe­ri­ence the most se­vere form of ha­rass­ment, in which they were promised pro­mo­tion or bet­ter treat­ment.

# Metoo move­ment should not be di­rected to those males, who are not in­volved in the ha­rass­ment to the wom­en­folk. Of course, cul­prits of all kinds should be made li­able and be pun­ished as per laws. Per­sonal grudges, prej­u­dice, po­lit­i­cal venom, pro­fes­sional envy etc can mo­ti­vate ig­no­ble in­di­vid­u­als to ha­rass, hurt or shame ri­vals us­ing spe­cial priv­i­leges on gen­der or caste. This is like apartheid in re­verse gear, ex­pe­ri­enced by mer­i­to­ri­ous of gen­eral cat­e­gory past over 70 years of vote bank pol­i­tics.

It is a mat­ter of shame that there are al­le­ga­tions and counter al­le­ga­tions in #Metoo move­ment in In­dia and that MJ Ak­bar had to quit his min­is­ter's post un­der pres­sure. At the same time, there are many celebri­ties in var­i­ous other fields, who are fac­ing sim­i­lar al­le­ga­tions. Will they fol­low suit by re­lin­quish­ing their re­spec­tive po­si­tions? How is the # Metoo move­ment go­ing to take it for­ward?

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