THE #METOO MOVEMENT
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?