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The reactions to Zaira Wasim after her allegations of molestation only show us how willing we are to point fingers at women.
Firstly, I am not going to make any judgements about this particular case as I am waiting for more facts to surface to the top.
Secondly in this particular case, the facts don’t matter to me as much as the backlash that the actress has been receiving ever since she slapped sexual molestation charges on her co-passenger during her Vistara airlines flight.
Why is it that we, as a society are so quick to point our fingers first at the woman?
We should be pointing fingers towards the accused, the man here who was clearly not following the rules and regulations.
What was his business to put up his feet on his fellow passenger’s seat?
Instead, we conclude:
‘Oh she is an actress who’s pulling a fast one for garnering publicity!´
´I’ve seen her interviews…she´s too mature for an 17-18 year old. She can’t be innocent.´
But we, as a society bestow the crown of innocence and naïveté upon a middle aged man.
‘The innocent man was so tired that he needed a foot rest to sleep and let it wander magically on its own all over his front passenger´s neck and back.’
We are not ignorant of how our actresses are looked upon in our society. There are numerous reports and videos of actresses being groped and felt up by random strangers in a crowd; random men who would otherwise pass off as respectable men in the eyes of the society when compared to actresses who are looked down upon as selling their souls or trading their flesh for money.
Sub-consciously, we have painted the actress Zaira Wasim as a ‘not-so-innocent´ 17 year old actress and the accused man as the innocent regular family man.
Again, I am not pronouncing any judgement in this particular case. All I am doing is highlighting the prejudice that women face, how difficult it is to come out in the open and admit in public that they were molested without their consent.
Please note Consent is the key word here.
Why didn’t anyone ask the man if he asked Zaira’s consent to put up his feet on her seat’s arm rest? Hasn’t she paid her ticket for that space for a few hours in transit?
Why are all the questions being hurled at the woman in question, Zaira Wasim and not the man?
The accused is the regional head of the Sun group of companies that has radio channels like Red FM and other TV channels under them. Surely, he should have had some sense before putting up his feet like that.
Why are people not questioning his education and credentials and only pronouncing character judgements on the actress alone?
When women speak up either at home, the work space or any space, we have to answer a barrage of questions:
What were you wearing?
What time was it and what were you doing there at that time?
Why did you go out alone?
Why did you wait for so long to admit that this molestation happened?
Are you sure that it’s not your hallucination?
Are these false charges to defame or garner publicity?
Before questioning Zaira Wasim on so many issues regarding the case, why is the man not subjected to the same interrogation by the public?
Does a mere sorry vindicate him for making a fellow passenger’s flight experience horrendous and miserable?
In Zaira’s case, its her prerogative when she chooses to report the incident. So many women report issues of molestation much later after it has happened. In some cases, many years later. May be she simply said an okay that she didn’t mean at that moment of apology. And the apology didn’t help her feel any better later. Maybe she wasn’t convinced of his innocence totally on afterthought. We don’t know for sure.
But, why are we putting her under a microscope and examining her true intentions and letting the man off the hook without such similar character screening?
The backlash that the actress is facing is a classic example of why women don’t report such seemingly trivial cases of harassment in our day-to-day lives. Because sadly, it has become commonplace in our society and something that we women are expected to simply smile and bear up.
There is no point in having online #MeToo campaigns when we don’t show our support in action. Let the courts make the final decision after listening to both sides of the incident.
Meanwhile, please let women speak up fearlessly about how they truly feel. Let them claim their rightful place in society. Yes, even those few hours in transit on a plane seat that they paid for with their hard earned money.
Just show her some respect, will you! Not in mere lip service, but in action!
The biggest question is – can you?
Image source: By Bollywood Hungama (BollywoodHungama.com) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, for representational purposes only
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Winner of the Rashtriya Gaurav Award (2019) in association with the Government of Telangana for ‘
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