#MeToo is finally catching up in the Indian domain of different work spaces. Ending of the year 2018 has been flooded by horrors of sexual harassment cases. Many women are daring to go recorded and some are still anonymous. #MeToo movement is now a worldwide phenomenon.
2017 was a year of revelations in the west of unacceptable behaviour. Movements against sexual harassments as #MeToo and Time’s up have shaken up the west immensely. It’s only now in India that women are calling out Big Men from the Boy’s club. Indian audience is now listening to such claims. Victims are being heard and not just character assassinated.
The term MeToo was initially used by an American activist Tarana Burke and it was popularised in the social media by Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano by adding the hashtag weight to it. The #MeToo movement went viral in 2017 with women across the world narrating their experiences on the digital world… As per Tarana Burke this movement is all about giving voice to the sufferers. Their motto is “empowerment through empathy”.
Meaning of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted/uncalled/unwelcome /not consented /not agreed sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. It’s any behaviour or act that is sexually coloured in nature.
Sexual harassment is defined by law and includes requests for sexual favours, sexual advances or other sexual conduct when
(1) submission is either explicitly or implicitly a condition affecting work and employment decisions
(2) the behaviour is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to create an intimidating, hostile or repugnant environment
(3) the behaviour persists despite objection by the person to whom the conduct is directed.
Dominoes falling effect:
Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Brett Kavanaugh, Woody Allen
Producer and Co-founder of the Weinstein Company have been fired from the organisation. More than almost eighty women have testified against this giant moghul.
Comparison between the #MeToo in the west and #MeToo in India
After April 2017, almost more than 250 men from big offices have been accused for sexual harassment. They range not only from Hollywood, corporate, publishing houses, fashion houses, politics, Media henchmen, sports and others. Many powerful men have been accused for their sexual harassment at work places.
Accused and punished: Fox news host Bill O’ Reilly was forced to resign in April 2017.
Ninety seven men from entertainment industry from various fields have been accused of sexual violations. Actor Steven Wilder Striegel when charged with sexual harassment has pleaded guilty to two felonies in 2010. He was accused by women who were then just a minor of fourteen years of age. He served six months in jail. 20th century Fox has deleted his scene from the film Predator.
Actor Kevin Spacey: Multiple men have reported that he sexually harassed or assaulted them, or made sexual advances when they were underage. He has been fired from House of Cards and police are investigating.
Morgan Freeman-eight women have charged him with sexual harassment.
James Franco: he has been accused by many women for sexual harassment
Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, Stan lee, Nick Carter, Dustin Hoffman, Ed Westwick , Ben Affleck, Nelly(Rapper) , soccer player Christiano Ronaldo
Larry Nassar. He was a team physician: More than 100 women and girls have reported that he sexually assaulted or abused them. He has been sentenced to 40-175 years in prison, in addition to a previous 60-year sentence for child pornography.
Many in the west, these sexual predators are being investigated. Some of these powerful men have resigned or have been forced to resign from their designations. When found guilty by the law enforcement, stringent action has been taken against such perpetrators. Many firms and organisations have broken ties with such men. They have distanced themselves from men who are questioned for their sexual misconduct.
In India the word sex is a taboo so what can you think about having a dialogue about sexual harassment of women in the Indian work place. Credit goes to the current #MeToo movement that media in both the print and digital world is occupying the prime time and prime space equally about sexual harassment and other gender related crimes.
Politician M.J Akbar: Multiple women journalists, such as Priya Ramani, Ghazala Wahab and Shutapa Paul and Tushita Patel came out with detailed accounts of alleged sexual harassment by M.J Akbar when he held senior editorial positions at various media organisations.
He has resigned as a minister of state for external affairs. Almost twenty women have offered to testify against the disgraced minister M.J.Akbar.
BCCI CEO Rahul Johri: He has been accused of sexual harassment by an ex-collegue from the Discovery Channel. A three-member panel has been set up to examine the charges levied against him. Saurav Ganguly is unhappy with the shoddy investigation and doubts the future of the outcome.
Talent Manager Anirban Blah: many women have surfaced to accuse Anirban of sexual harassment, including Actress Meira Omar.
KWAN, is a celebrity management company which manages Bollywood celebrities as Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone has asked its founder Anirbhan Blah to step down from his designation of the firm.
Ad man/consultant Suhel Seth: He has been accused by many women of sexual harassment. Prominent names to complain against him are filmmaker Natashja Rathore, ex-Bigg Boss contestant /supermodel Diandra Soares, a journalist and two others who remain anonymous.
Result: Tata Sons have terminated contract with Suhel Seth’s consultancy firm Counselage India following the allegations.
Journalist Vinod Dua: Filmmaker Nishtha Jain in a social media post accused Vinod Dua of making lewd jokes, demeaning her during a job interview and stalking and had sexyally harassed her when she started working at some other place.
Result: He is being investigated by an external committee.
Comedian Utsav Chakroborty: The writer-actor has been charged of sending nude pictures of himself to unknown women and asking for similar pictures in return. It has resulted in delisting this actors video from AIB. In his twitter handle the actor has written a long apology.
Writer Chetan Bhagat: This writer of the film Three Idiots fame has been accused of sending inappropriate texts to a woman.Ira Trivedi has claimed of being sexually harassed by the author.
In Indian terrain all the men have refuted the allegations as baseless. Common strategies by all predators is they will take the accuser to court on defamation charges. Indian Weinstein will be M.J Akbar where almost 20 women have come out. And more to come.
Women and Child development Minister Shrimati Maneka Gandhi has proposed setting up a committee with senior judicial and legal persons as members to examine all claims sprouting from the #MeToo movement. She has encouraged through investigation in such complaints. Maneka Gandhi has also commented that such sex harassment complaints should be allowed even 10-15 years later.
The widespread digital #MeToo movement came about a year ago after allegations against powerful Hollywood Moghul Harvey Weinstein, it encouraged many women – and men – to come out with their narratives of being exploited or attacked sexually. Now it’s taking shape in the Indian soil. Let’s hope that the predators are booked under the Indian law.