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“Why do the immoral survive?” asks the author, adding, “It is time to rally around and bring decency back into society, come hell or high water.”
So, the worms have begun creeping out of the woodwork. (I always wondered why the noun ‘creep’ made the skin crawl. Now I know why!) The #MeToo campaign was a strong and spirited response to all those decades of sexual attacks which had been hidden under the carpet, by victims who were scared to bring the grisly details to the forefront. One cannot blame them for wanting to remain anonymous, given the patriarchal attitude of a world that may scream itself hoarse about the equality of the sexes, but refuses to believe women when they bring up the issue of sexual harassment.
One Harvey Weinstein does not a successful campaign make! The revelations that followed after the first one by Rose McGowan came, fast and furious, revealing sexual abuse and harassment over thirty long years. Weinstein was sacked by the board of his company and it was this fact, maybe, that gave more women courage to come forward with their #MeToo stories.
India is seeing its own version of #MeToo with Tanushree Dutta having revived a ten-year-old allegation against character actor, Nana Patekar, in which he was supposed to have sexually harassed her by forcing her to do intimate dance steps with him, even as he shoved her around. Nana has allegedly refuted these allegations and slapped a defamation case against her for having maligned his image in public.
The thread has started unravelling. Many women have started coming out, emboldened by Tanushree Dutta, and Twitter is ablaze with threads of conversation that talk about artistes in powerful positions making sexual demands of junior artistes and interns who have been too frightened to come out and reveal the identities of these molesters.
What comes out in these conversations, apart from the gory details, is the fact that, in many cases, the victims have complained to people in authority, hoping that they would help them. Unfortunately, these very people have either shut them up, or not taken them seriously, or in most cases, have refused to believe them. The reason is clear. They do not want to take sides, for the right side will pit them against powerful individuals who have the clout to buy silence and crush any revolt against them.
Every day, celebrity names are tumbling out, including the suave, the smooth and the ‘sanskaari’. Stand-up comedians vie with authors and politicians, as gasps of shock reverberate around the country.
Why should women be questioned on why they didn’t lay bare the skeletons in their closets when they were first molested? The reasons are galore, not the least being that the man often gets away with misconduct, while the woman has accusing fingers pointed at her. She is reviled, disbelieved, abused verbally and online, and left wondering why she bothered to say anything in the first place. Powerful men scream her down, denouncing her roundly, denying her accusations. These men believe in the theory that loud voices and aggressive words can cow down the strongest of women.
In a country that worships the Goddess, there is a frightening lack of respect towards women. Most men who abuse women come from households that are dominantly patriarchal, where women are relegated to the kitchen or the bedroom, and considered as dumb dolls who have no opinions of their own. Be it their grandmothers, their mothers, their sisters or their daughters, women are seen as weak and meek in every way. It is this feeling of superiority that translates into a feeling of dominance as they grow up, and it is this blatant lack of respect that impels them to see all women as commodities to be used and discarded.
Now that the Pandora’s Box has been opened, with names falling out with impunity, it is to be hoped that every abuser gets his just desserts and is punished and held up as an example in society. These powerful men need to be taught the all-valuable lesson that they need to respect every living creature on earth, and that women are a significant part of the world that they live in. Of course they will cry themselves hoarse, denying the allegations, decrying the women who revealed their names. Indian society is going through a difficult stage as the moral fabric has been torn to shreds.
It is time to rally around and bring decency back into society, come hell or high water. The guilty should be punished, the innocent should be vindicated, and justice should be meted out as soon as possible. For justice delayed is justice denied.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong.” It is only if the wrong is made right that the victims will feel emboldened to come out and fight for their rights and their dignity.
And finally, just think of those men in power who have built up their empires of power, having trodden on the lives of many in their ascent, because they have been able to buy the silence of the downtrodden with filthy lucre. One slip is all it takes to come crashing down into an abyss of shame and ignominy, as in one fell swoop, reputation and character are both lost, forever.
In other words, the words of the Bible, in fact, “What doth it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”
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Words have always played a vital role in my life. Short stories, poetry, humorous pieces
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