Will the #MeToo Movement empower Indian women to Stand up for their Rights?Oct 10, 2018
The current status and position of women in Indian society is quite complicated. Being one of the most ancient lands on earth, Indian society has seen many cycles of creations and destructions of ideologies and cultures. Women have been revered as goddesses, treated like privileged births as well as killed off before birth in this same land. Different periods of history saw different treatments being meted out to women.
Present times are confusing times where empowerment as well as suppression is taking place simultaneously. On one hand, more and more women are taking up independent lives and exercising their rights without fear while another section is lurking in fear of being abused and shamed if they dare to go against the deeply embedded patriarchal mindset in our society.
The #metoo movement started in Hollywood and is still continuing with powerful and formerly respected men getting caught up in allegations. Women across the globe found their voice as the hashtag caught up on social media and many women told their darkest stories.
They also found some much-needed support from peers who stood by them. However, there was also a section of social media that accused the survivors of trying to grab attention and writing fake stories. As if surviving sexual assault is not enough, women who come out and speak about it are being further slut-shamed and this is the gross reality of the current day and age.
Extending into India, the #metoo movement has given the courage to many women of our country to open up a discussion about the well-guarded prevalence of sexual assault in our society. The movement is gaining momentum as the misbehaviour of top journalists and film-personalities is being thrown out in the open. The latest can of worms to open up is about the culture of misbehaviour in the field of media.
Two anonymous singers from the Tamil film industry have opened up about their horrendous experiences with legendary lyricist Vairamuthu. This senior lyricist who was respected for decades has apparently been a sexual predator for a long time. This got further leverage with few other people vouching for his generally lewd behaviour. The singers who have posted their stories through the social media page of journalist Sandhya Menon have detailed their experience of being forcibly kissed in one case and of being touched inappropriately in another case. Both the stories have common features that include the common setting of taking place in Vairamuthu’s house/office and of both the victims being teenagers.
Many more stories have come out about Vairamuthu including stories of his vulgar behaviour in the ladies hostel that he runs. There has been no word from Vairamuthu’s side and most of the male members of the film fraternity have remained tight-lipped about this even though the issue has been going on for the past two days.
Similarly, a voice artiste has revealed about how she was treated with utter disrespect and sexually harassed by actor Radha Ravi. Radha Ravi is the head of the dubbing union and the victim has also recounted how she was lifted out of the association when she spoke about her experience on the social media page of the dubbing union.
At another part of the country, the founding members of the comedy ensemble AIB have been detained until further notice after there were sexual harassment allegations on the two of them. The people in question are famed comedians Tanmay Bhatt and Gursimran Khamba. While Khamba has issued a statement that the incident was a case of a toxic relationship, the final word on both the cases remains to be seen. The network that hosts their show has cancelled it in the light of these events.
It is time that we question how the culture of sexual abuse has grown to this extent in our country. If powerful men in good positions are misbehaving then what example does that set to the others? Even with the risk of losing their reputations, how are these powerful men going ahead and doing these things? What is that blind courage that they have? Is it just that they know that they can get away easily because the society will ultimately point fingers at the women even if they recount their horrible experiences? It is high-time that we found answers to these questions.