In­dia’s MeToo high­lights fail­ure

Otago Daily Times - - WORLD -

NEW DELHI: Scores of In­dian ac­tresses and writ­ers have flooded so­cial me­dia with al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and as­sault in the past few weeks.

They were re­leas­ing pent­up frus­tra­tion with a law lauded in­ter­na­tion­ally but which crit­ics say has done lit­tle to change the sta­tus quo.

‘‘Peo­ple us­ing so­cial me­dia to ar­tic­u­late their com­plaints should be recog­nised in the con­text of fail­ure. The sys­tem has in ef­fect failed us, has failed women,’’ T.K. Ra­jala­ kshmi, pres­i­dent of the In­dian Women’s Press Corps, said.

The Sex­ual Ha­rass­ment of Women at Work­place Act of 2013 holds In­dian work­places li­able for sex­ual ha­rass­ment, and pre­scribes a sys­tem for in­ves­ti­gat­ing and re­dress­ing com­plaints.

But nearly five years since the law came into ef­fect, many man­agers and em­ploy­ees are not aware of it.

Al­leged vic­tims are now mak­ing them­selves heard on so­cial me­dia, by­pass­ing com­pletely the pro­to­col cre­ated by the 2013 law.

The so­cial me­dia storm be­gan in Septem­ber, when for­mer Bol­ly­wood ac­tress Tanushree Dutta spoke about her frus­tra­tion with a fruit­less po­lice com­plaint filed in 2008 against ac­tor Nana Patekar for al­leged sex­ual ha­rass­ment on a Mum­bai movie set.

Dutta said af­ter Patekar groped her dur­ing a dance rou­tine, she fled the set and a mob sur­rounded her car, smashed the wind­shield and trapped her in­side.

Patekar has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, but Mum­bai po­lice have opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter af­ter Dutta filed a fresh com­plaint — just one of a host of sim­i­lar com­plaints made or re­it­er­ated over the past two weeks.

But per­haps the most star­tling de­vel­op­ment has been the string of ac­cu­sa­tions against ju­nior ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­is­ter M.J. Ak­bar.

In less than a week, at least nine women jour­nal­ists have ac­cused Ak­bar of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour as a news­pa­per ed­i­tor in Kolkata and Delhi. — AAP

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