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Many empowered women and celebrities who do have some privilege have spoken up in the #MeToo movement. But is this going to percolate down and help the ordinary woman for every day is a struggle?
The past few days have seen many people come out and speak against eminent personalities in the film fraternity, media and politics as a part of the Me Too movement in India. It is indeed commendable of women to be able to speak against their offenders. In a society where the intention of the victims is first questioned, rather than pointing a finger at the abuser, it takes a lot of courage to speak up.
However, I am not too convinced about the effectiveness of such a movement and what will come of these allegations. ,Of course, this is my personal opinion. We will have to wait to see what the result of this movement will be, and how many offenders do get punished.
This MeToo movement was initially started with a view to raise awareness about sexual harassment at the workplace and to empower women to speak up against such assaults and harassment.
But the fact of the matter is that when prominent personalities speak up against other prominent personalities, there is a lot of media coverage of the cases, there are defamation suits filed, the media probably may follow it up, but after the initial euphoria nothing may even come of it. The allegations in certain cases relate to instances that happened a few years back; which are definitely going to be tough to prove. As a result, there may hardly be any punishment thereof.
The fact of the matter is that women in our society are subject to such harassments on a daily basis. Every day in our lives, there is a #metoo instance. We are touched in an inappropriate manner or ‘felt’ in some way by men, some time or the other. Sometimes it is while walking on the street, while traveling on public transport, and sometimes even in religious places.
In reality, no campaign is going to be able to make me raise my voice, when a pervert touches my thighs while walking on the street or feels my breast in a crowded bus. If I am courageous enough, I may be able to slap that guy at the very moment. What follows later is another story.
But if I feel disgusted and ashamed about what I had to go through and choose to be silent about it, that is my call. Nobody is ever going to be able to save us from these everyday instances. Having said that, not everyone is courageous enough to deal with such perpetrators in a high-handed manner. Also, the harassment could be of a higher magnitude, where the victim is not being just touched, but is being sexually abused.
There could be many reasons for a being silent; just sheer embarrassment, or the offender being a person in power or the victim simply not being financially dependent to get off the clutches of the offender. Each of us has a way of dealing with it, some choose to be silent, accepting it as a part of our lives, ignore it and go on with our lives and some do a favor on the society by taking the offender to task. But most of the times, it is a case of putting up with all this silently and dreading it as well.
What then can be the solution to all this, and how do we women deal with this daily nuisance?
The best thing is obviously to raise the voices against it. While I would like to raise my daughter telling her that it is a matter of her consent, whether she wants someone to touch her in a certain way or not, I probably also need to teach my son to ask for consent about touching someone. Like Mr. Bachchan says in Pink ‘ A no is a no’.
One of the major concerns for women in our society is of sexual harassment at workplace; which would involve something as simple as passing of lewd remarks by a male colleague to asking for sexual favours. The trend for such favours in return for jobs or more needs to be checked and stopped. Someone started it, someone gave in to it, and the others thought it to be a privilege to be asking for. But it obviously is not so.
Although there is a rule named POSH (Prevention of sexual harassment) and it is mandatory for companies to have a committee that looks into sexual harassment cases; whether such a committee exists in every organization or not is questionable. Also, the awareness among the employees regarding the same is another aspect altogether.
The other thing is that in Civics around the 5th or 6th std, there is a chapter dedicated to the constitution and the fundamental rights of every citizen. Likewise, in college, the students need to have a compulsory course on workplace ethics, the do’s and don’ts of the workplace, about behaviour that is permissible and otherwise, and also about dealing with sexual harassment at the workplace. This might prepare the youngsters with what they can expect, and how they can react in certain situations, and also how to avoid such scenarios.
However, sexual harassment at the workplace is just one aspect of it. When it comes to everyday lives, there is no training that can be given, nor any rules that can be taught. It is simply a matter of consent and raising the voices against it at the right time. It is not a campaign that is going to change things for us; it is our own stand that is. The parents, the school, the influential people and media and the law and order have to come together to make the women and the girls speak up or stand for their honor and dignity.
The sad truth is that in spite of having the likes of a Sania Mirza, a Saina Nehwal, a Mitali Raj or a Mary Kom among us, there are still parts of our country where women are perceived as nothing beyond a piece of flesh for pleasure. Maybe such sexual preferences are prevalent world over, but it seems ironical that in a country where the glory of the Goddess is celebrated for 9 days in a row, the safety and respect for women is still selective. Having said that, every man that we come across is not a predator and there are certain good men around too. Hopefully the future generation has more of these good men than the offenders.
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A homemaker, a freelance writer who loves to travel and has a passion for reading.
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