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With #MeToo going strong, instead of questioning the silence of the sexual harassment victims, it’s time to be aware of the laws and take the right legal actions against the culprits.
Every morning a new story is coming out of Pandora’s box, this era’s one of the most sensational movements – #MeToo. Every day a new name, more famous, more powerful. Every day a new victim. The disgust, frustration, and anger are increasing each day.
Every day the same question… Why so late? Why after so many tears? Why the silence for so many years? Women are being called opportunists, publicity hungry, attention seekers and hundreds of memes and jokes are being circulated on this issue. Social media is filled with views, writings, opinions, and stories. #MeToo is going to stay here for a long time.
The question is, what about the stories that don’t come out of the closet? People opine that the film industry is a place where sexual abuse, harassment and taking undue advantage is common. The entertainment industry does not seem to believe that some kind of law exists against the crime of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Both male and female members of the industry are aware of this reality and women should be prepared to face this when they choose this field as a profession. This is a spineless explanation to justify the exploitation. Sexual abuse and harassment is a crime under the Indian Penal Code.
The following are the relevant sections pertaining to sexual harassment and abuse against women that the law of land provides –
1)If a woman is sexually harassed she can ask for the FIR statement to be recorded in a language she understands. If for some reason that is not possible, she can ask for a translator and make sure that every detail is recorded.
2) Abusing a woman with sexually colored or provocative remarks on social media is a crime under IPC Section 509, with a fine and a punishment of more than a year’s imprisonment.
3) Just because an allegation could not be proved, does not mean that it will be treated as a false or malicious complaint under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013.
4) Under IPC Section 354 (A), the man can face up to 3 years in jail for making unwanted physical contact against a woman’s will is a crime
5) Under the same section, it is illegal to show pornography to a woman against her will, demand sexual favours, or imply sexual intentions.
6) Watching, capturing or sharing images of a woman engaging in a private act without her consent is voyeurism and is punishable under IPC Section 354 (C). The man can face jail from 1 to 3 years if it’s his first offence, and from 3 to 7 years if it’s a repeat offence.
7) Singing lewd songs directed at women in public spaces is considered sexual harassment under IPC Section 294 and the offenders could be jailed up to 3 months or fined or both.
It is a pity that most of the women are not aware of these provisions of law. Even if they are aware, the fear that fingers will be pointed at them in the first place makes them choose the silence. Her clothes, her working hours, her choice of profession, her character, her ambitions, her relationships everything will be blamed instead of the real culprit – the pervert who does the act of indecency. Here, the victim is branded as the instigating factor for conducting the crime. She might get boycotted from her professional field. The reputation of her family will be at stake.
Even after creating such an unsafe environment for women, people are asking why the silence for so many years? Sexual abuse is a trauma that a woman undergoes and it takes years to come face to face with reality without blaming herself for the situation she was trapped in. The courage and support are missing because of the stigma that is attached to sexual abuse in our society. After all its a question of ‘Izzat’ of family.
The #MeToo movement is a wave generated at the west and reached here through the network of social media. Women are coming out of their hesitations and inhibitions as they are now feeling that they are not alone. The years of pain and mental agony needs to be shed even if people might call them opportunists, gold diggers or blackmailers.
It is actually an irony that the presence of law couldn’t provide the kind of confidence that these women need to come out with their traumatic experiences, which this movement has generated. People may crack jokes, create memes, but can not change the reality. But that thing will now change, even if gradually.
However, the significance of #MeToo movement will be truly achieved when it will bring out the voices of women belonging to various professions and fields. The glamour industry is giving sensational stories for every media house. But it is the responsibility of the media to reach the masses. When the ordinary women from underprivileged classes shed their fear of being judged or blamed for keeping silence for so long, the real #MeToo movement shall begin. The maids, the nurses, the secretaries, the assistant teachers and professors, the junior officers, doctors, lawyers, chefs, hostesses, and the list is endless.
With power comes a tendency to control and manipulate. However, if power, capability, and wisdom are mixed in the right proportion, crimes like exploitation and abuse can be uprooted.
Rather than asking women reason for their long silence for so many years, people should at least now take the right legal actions. This could be done by recognizing the perverts, road Romeos, exploiters, spineless and shameless abusers and boycotting them, bringing them before the law of the land. Let rationality take over the stereotyped attitude of further victimization of the victims.
Earlier Published here.
Image Source – Unsplash
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