Me Too – these simple words have somehow provided courage to women in India and across the world to talk about the sexual harassment and sexual assault they underwent.
How did it all start?
The movement was inspired by the actress Alyssa Milano in October 2017. She tweeted asking victims of sexual harassment and assault to respond to the tweet #MeToo and just in 10 days, 1.7 million tweets with the hashtag were sent. Women spoke about the experiences that they had bottled up inside them.
But in reality the movement started in 2006 by a social activist Tarana Burke and focussed on Empowerment through Empathy. It was actually a campaign that helped victims of sexual harassment and abuse a feeling that they weren’t alone and helped them heal.
After Alyssa’s tweet a lot of celebrities including Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow made accusations of rape and sexual assault against the Hollywood actor Harvey Weinstein.
In a recent incident it came to light that Steven Wilder Striegel had been on Connecticut’s sexual offender list since 2009. A series of emails he sent to a 14 year old included an email where he graphically described the girl the sexual positions he’d like to try with her.
#MeToo Movement in India
Almost one year after the MeToo movement went viral worldwide, it has suddenly kicked off in India. A lot of celebs spoke about their experience.
It began with Tanushree Dutta talking about the actor Nana Patekar’s behaviour on the sets of Horn OK a decade ago.
A Banaras Hindu University Student called out Varun Grover, an award-winning lyricist for misbehaving with her on pretense of working on a play.
The serial Tara fame Vinta Nanda accused Alok Nath – the actor known for his sanskaari on screen image of violating her sexually two decades ago.
Flora Saini, the actress who played the role of ghost in Stree movie also shared her story of sexual assault and harassment by the producer Gaurang Doshi. Others who have been accused include Vivek Agnihotri, Vikas Bahl, Utsav Chakraborty, Chetan Bhagat, Rajat Kapoor and Kailash Kher. Several celebs, including Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar, Twinkle Khanna and Priyanka Chopra, are supporting the movement and the survivors.
What does it mean to us “the women” in India?
As an Indian Women, we’ve never been encouraged to speak up about sexual harassment and assault. We’ve kept quiet when we were touched inappropriately by a known person at home or workplace and wondered if what happened was our mistake. For generations, we’ve been told what to wear, how to suppress our dreams for family and if we made an attempt to open up when we’ve been wronged, we were told to shut up and let go, because “Log Kya Kahenge?” and “Tumse Kaun Shadi Karega?”
Even as most of us read the recent stories, we’re still not sure if we can share about the horrors we’ve gone through, because we’ve been made to believe that speaking up against the sexual offender will somehow cause problems in our future. We’ve been dealing with the trauma, anxiety and doubting ourselves for years and as we can see, the sexual offenders have been living a guilt-free life. The feeling of women speaking out is overwhelming. I believe as women we don’t really want to prove anyone about what happened to us and how. We just want someone to acknowledge what we’ve been through. We want to make sure that women who go through this in future to speak up and men think twice before sexually assaulting anyone. The motive of this initiative will be fulfilled when the world is a safe place for a woman and we no longer have to say #MeToo.