No time in Nation’s history witnessed the situation when women, in such a large number, gathered courage to take on their perpetrators, by naming them publicly, which is in itself an unprecedented event towards paving a way to ensure better women’s safety and security for generations to come.
The recent few weeks have been instrumental in making a long-lasting impression in Indian patriarchal society, where girls/women are ashamed of coming forward to report sexual assault with themselves.
With #MeToo movement sweeping the nation; women from different walks of lives challenged the status quo, where victims are suppressed to stay mum, by naming the names of sexual predators on social media.
Although gradually, but #MeToo movement gathered momentum in India, and people from different fraternities come forward in the support of victims.
India’s #MeToo movement gathered impetus when model-turned actress Tanushree Dutta, during a TV interview, accused veteran Bollywood actor Nana Patekar of sexual harassment at the sets of film, Horn ok Please, in 2008.
After United States and China, it took a bit to take off in India, but gradually the movement has taken the nation by storm, as it was followed by hundreds of women from film, media, corporate and other fraternities, exposing their harassers on Twitter and Facebook, as India media is giving special coverage to the movement in prime time show.
In what could be a metamorphic happening in India’s modern history, the women gathered courage to report their sexual harassment at work place by taking the names of people who walked away with it as nothing happened, and who also holds influential positions in their respective fields.
After Dutta, including actress Sona Mohapatra, Kangana Ranaut, Kate Sharma, film producer Vinta Nanda, journalists- Priya Ramani, Shuma Raha, Kanika Gahlaut,Suparna Sharma, Ghazala Wahab, Saba Naqvi, Kadambari Wade, Ruth David, Malini Bhupta, Janice Sequeira and Ira Trivedi- many women expressed their #MeToo moments in last few weeks over social media.
The movement took the country by shock as people from film celebrities like Nana Patekar, Annu Malik, Sajid Khan, Utsav Chakraborty, Vikas Bahl, Alok Nath, singer Abhijeet, director Subhash Ghai to notable author Chatan Bhagat, Suhel Seth and Rajya Sabha Member and former Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar have been accused of sexual harassment of their female colleagues at work place on social media.
Following the sexual harassment and rape allegations, Cine and TV Artistes’ Association (CINTTA) expelled actor Alok Nath from the organization, while owing to mounting pressure of #MeToo movement on central government, MJ Akbar, accused by 16 female journalists, who held various influential positions at Asian Age, The Telegraph and India Today, had to resign from the post.
Even corporate world didn’t remain untouched from waves of movement, as women in corporate sector also opened up to report their #MeToo moments, leading them to revisit their policy to ensure safety and security of female employees at work place.
Also, taking serious note on the issue, Maneka Gandhi, Minister of Women and Child Welfare appointed a high-level committee of judges to look into each and every case reported case under the #MeToo movement.
Given the recent developments revolving around women’s safety across the country, the actual storm of #MeToomovement began brewing inside victims of such incidents since December 2012 after brutal gang-rape of a Nirbhaya, which led to a nationwide outrage followed by government taking numbers of measures to ensure more safety for women.
However, the harsh reality is that like #Nirbhaya movement, #MeToo too remains stuck only to big cities, as women’s voice is still clamped down by male dominant society, when it comes to sexual assault in small cities, moffussil towns and villages. They still cannot gather courage to speak up as patriarchal society takes toll on them to keep them shut across the hinterland.
Following national-wide outrage after Nirbhaya rape tragedy, there were abrupt increase in number of cases reported pertaining to women assault/rape, however, as the movement lost its spate, situation returned to what it was before December 2012.
Being one of the most conservative societies, coupled with regional and language differences, and limited access to technology, the India’s #MeToo’s still strives to stretch its reach from urban elites to women in semi-urban and rural areas, where more than half of the country’s women live in vulnerable conditions.