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Are you a part of it?
Do you support it?
Is it really changing society?
I too wonder as you do.
I too am hesitant to write #metoo.
Is it another trend that will die down the drain, or the much fuss over it will be able to sustain to bring a change?
This movement aims to bring to notice the already known fact about women in the world. A topic much-talked. A fact about how much harassment, disrespect, violence, abuse and injustice women deal with.
Comparing the past with the present, women in the world may have experienced a change in their conditions, however, the ghosts of the past still lurk around. Whence, this trend hit India, it gave a voice to the masses to speak about their inhibitions, experiences and especially the Indian women to bring amidst their life’s stories. From what she daily faces while her dignity stands shaken and ready to be trampled in public as well as in her private life.
#MeToo campaign is an online movement against the continuous acts of sexual harassment and assault against women. This campaign started in October 2017 and soon spread like fire.
It all started with the famous former American film producer, Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of sexual harassment by over 70 women. Till then, many hashtags about sharing stories of workplace sexual harassment existed like #MyHarveyWeinstein, #YouOkSis, #WhatWereYouWearing, and #SurvivorPrivilege.
Till one day, Tarana Burke, who is a social activist and community organizer began using the phrase "Me Too" in 2006 on Myspace. This was done as a part of the campaign to encourage women to talk more openly about sexual abuse especially within the underprivileged communities.
Inspired by a little girl’s confession to Burke, about how sexually abused and exploited she was, a movement this big came into existence as you and I know it. On October 15, 2017, actress Alyssa Milano encouraged spreading #MeToo, acknowledging the phrase by Burke with an attempt to draw focus towards sexual assault and harassment.
The #MeToo movement helped all the women in society, by giving them the courage to speak up against the wrong and raise a voice against the acts of sexual abuse and violence they have experienced.
It’s not the first time that something like this has come up, but this movement has gained a lot of popularity with the help of social media. This campaign majorly focuses on women’s rights and helps them in recovering from bad experiences of life.
Social media, however, is providing them with a platform to share freely without any fear or shame. To cite a few major impacts of this movement, do you recall when the popular Pune pub - High Spirits owned by Khodu Irani was boycotted by several well-known performers, after the viral #MeToo tweet of blogger Sheena Dabolkar. Several women reported against Mahesh Murthy which initiated a police case in January 2018.
There were reports of mass sexual assaults during the 2018 New Years celebrations in Bangalore, which have been associated with #MeToo. The incidents were initially dismissed by the police until someone uploaded CCTV footage of the assaults to social media.
Trends Desk of The Indian Express wrote about many Indian men who are speaking up as a part of #MeToo and discussing how some men are also abused.
Rina Chandran of Reuters said, “#MeToo is ignoring the 600 Thousand women in India who are currently sex workers against their will and are typically poor without education or family.”
On September 27, 2018, former actress Tanushree Dutta accused Nana Patekar of sexual harassment and alleging him of misbehaviour with her while filming a song for the movie, Horn Ok Pleasss in 2008. The accusation by Dutta stirred a row of accusations from many women in industries including media and politics.
These kinds of incidents show how women are treated in our society. There are numerous stories on sexual harassment and sexual abuse faced by women, where they are asked either to keep silent or are threatened.
As per a news daily report, about 79% of women in India, is the number who have faced public harassment and have experienced some form of harassment or violence in public, while 39% women are groped or touched in public.
According to the National Crimes Records Bureau, in 2016 the rape of minor girls increased by 82%, and guess what, 95% of rapists were not strangers but family, friends, and neighbours.
The silence of women in case of sexual harassment or assault clearly portrays the failure of the Indian system and implementation of the law to address these issues.
What we need to do is, not remain silent and enact our rights or raise our voice. Just like Susan Fowler.
If you remember, this former Uber engineer wrote a viral essay blog, which brought down the CEO of Uber and 20 other employees in one go. As many of her coworkers had been bullied into silence, Susan chose her words carefully and instigated an investigation exposing Uber’s sexist work environment.
If yes, exercise them right away.
If not, then remember that if you are at a workplace, in public, at home or on the internet, no one has the right to harass you and if you find yourself in this situation, then THEY have to pay the price for it. NOT YOU.
People harassing anyone are charged with punishment under the Law, and you in such case need to follow these steps -
1) In the Workplace:
There must be an internal committee where there is a large number of employees.
Complain to the HR.
If it’s still not resolved, take your matter to the Police and to the Labour Court.
2) In Public: File an FIR against the violation of modesty and threat to security.
3) At Home:
Stop being ignorant and break the silence by filing an FIR under IPC for sexual harassment.
File a case in court under Section 498a of IPC.
4) On the Internet:
File an FIR against the violation of modesty, defamation, blackmail, and the threat to security.
Legally you may encounter hurdles in getting justice to prove the allegation of sexual harassment after many years have passed, as it leaves very little room for sustaining facts. Thus, you should never fall prey to silence and even the Supreme Court demands that any delay in registration of FIR must be taken seriously.
The newly-inserted Section 166A CrPC provides imprisonment up to two years for police officials who fail to register an FIR for serious crimes against women, particularly under Sections 354, 370, 376, 509 and related provisions.
Further, Section 468 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, states that for offences punishable with imprisonment for three years, the period of limitation shall also be of three years.
Since molestation under Section 354 IPC is an offence punishable with five years of imprisonment, the limitation bar under Section 468 of CrPC will not apply. Therefore, the FIR under that section will be maintainable.
Scars of sexual harassment are not always physical, they are even emotional and psychological. It is important that the nation is cognizant of this fact.
For all the above reasons, this #MeToo movement in India juxtaposed the society, where women risked everything and chose to speak up against injustice, assault, and men of power & influence.
So, stay vigilant, stay prepared and always voice up against any unfair practices against the dignity of women.
In case you need a backing, firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll reach out to you, easing your distress, because we know how it feels when you say #MeToo
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