India’s MeToo highlights failure
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