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Indian Women Step up for #MeToo Movement And Let Their Voices Be Heard

The fire has spread from Bollywood and the comedy space to the news media industry as well, with a slew of journalists and editors being named.

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The hushed whispers are getting louder. Flickr

Call it a bonfire of the vanities or an all-consuming sacrificial havan. But the “MeToo” flames now sweeping across social media have turned into a cleansing firestorm, burning holes in carefully honed public personas and turning the heat back on those whose job is to keep the social conscience and hold the powerful to account.

From best-selling authors to creative filmmakers to senior media editors and other guardians of public morality — people across industries are being named and shamed by the “MeToo” and “Time’s Up” movements which began in Hollywood a year ago.

The irony is profound in the case of celebrity author Chetan Bhagat. With a Twitter following of over 12.3 million, Bhagat has long been an active social commentator. But it is social media that is now pestering him with questions.

“Bhagat now finds himself arraigned in the court of public opinion, having to answer charges ranging from sexual harassment to wilful abuse of power that comes from a mass culture of celebrity worship. The old cliche of idols having feet of clay couldn’t ring truer,” said a senior media analyst.

Nana Patekat, Metoo
#MeToo movement is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault. #MeToo spread virally in October 2017. Flickr

On Saturday, Bhagat responded quickly to the charge with a somewhat abject apology, saying “sorry” for “going through a phase” in trying to “woo” a woman — all of this without naming the woman concerned.

“Much of what Bhagat says suggests that he believes himself to be no worse than ‘stupid’, guilty at best of misreading the drift of an intense, friendly social interaction and not being able to exercise ‘better judgment’.

“There was, as he puts it, ‘nothing physical’, ‘no lewd pictures or words were exchanged’ — as though sexual harassment cannot be said to have taken place in the absence of these overt predatory markers,” the analyst said.

In a scenario where silence or brazening it out are seen by many as an acceptable option, this may come as a relief. But is it enough, the victim might want to ask?

The lady who came out against comedian Utsav Chakraborty and opened a Pandora’s box of harassment complaints against a slew of popular comics on social media feels “punished” for telling the truth and claims she is facing post-traumatic stress disorder. And it doesn’t matter that Chakraborty wrote tweets over tweets explaining the “context” of his behaviour because the damage was done a long time ago.

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Tanushree hopes her story gives “girls a sense of confidence to come out with their story if they are suffering”.

It was actress Tanushree Dutta who last month gave the MeToo campaign the much-needed spark in India when she renewed an old allegation against acting veteran Nana Patekar of harassment on the sets of a 2008 film, “Horn OK Pleasss”. A decade ago when she came up with the same accusation, she says she felt silenced by those in power.

But now, there’s silence no more.

Leading stars have spoken up against the harassment that goes behind the gloss and glamour, and how the industry protects the “creeps” by letting complaints go unanswered or unaddressed.

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta has openly called “Queen” director Vikas Bahl a “creep” as the latter grabbed the spotlight, again in light of the MeToo movement, over allegations by a woman who had earlier accused him of sexually assaulting her.

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Queen” star Kangana Ranaut hasn’t been far behind in calling out Bahl,

“Will anybody do anything about this bloody creep or will the industry protect him like it always does,” questioned Mehta, who as a father of two daughters, fears they would have to deal with such “predators”.

Faced with sustained trolling and criticism, Mehta finally declared that he was “done with Twitter”.

“A platform that has ambiguous guidelines about hatred, negativity and abuse is no platform for debate or discussion — forget social change. Goodbye,” he said before deleting his account.

“Queen” star Kangana Ranaut hasn’t been far behind in calling out Bahl, who she said “bragged about having casual sex with a new partner every day”.

Two women have also come out about singer Kailash Kher.

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Two women have also come out about singer Kailash Kher.

As Nandita Das noted, “The hushed whispers are getting louder and are finally being heard.”

“Unlike in the past when such discussions disappeared all too quickly from the media, this time it appears that more people are listening. Women at the work place and outside too often face harassment and violence that almost always goes unreported. Especially, though not only, when perpetrated by powerful men.

“I am adding my voice in support with the hope that more lasting change comes out of this,” Das said.

The fire has spread from Bollywood and the comedy space to the news media industry as well, with a slew of journalists and editors being named.

Also Read: The Never-Ending Fight of Gender Inequality in Hollywood

Now, as Shobhaa De puts it, there are people “waiting impatiently for ‘MeToo’ in Indian politics”.

“Who will cast the first stone?” De asked. (IANS)

Next Story

Diet Drinks Increase Stroke Chances in Postmenopausal Women

The results in post-menopausal women may not be generalisable to men or younger women. 

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The results in post-menopausal women may not be generalisable to men or younger women. Pixabay

Are diet drinks your choice? Beware, your heart could be at risk. A new study suggests that drinking diet drinks was associated with an increased risk of having a stroke among post-menopausal women, researchers say.

The stroke is was caused by a blocked artery, especially small arteries.

The study, published in the journal Stroke, showed that compared with women who consumed diet drinks less than once a week or not at all, women who consumed two or more artificially sweetened beverages per day were 23 per cent more likely to have a stroke, 31 per cent more likely to have ischemic stroke, and 29 per cent were at risk of developing heart disease (fatal or non-fatal heart attack).

In addition, there was a 16 per cent risk of deaths from any cause.

 

 

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A new study suggests that drinking diet drinks was associated with an increased risk of having a stroke among post-menopausal women, researchers say. Pixabay

Furthermore, stroke risks more than doubled in women without previous heart disease or diabetes and obese women without previous heart disease or diabetes, findings revealed.

“Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet. Our research and other observational studies have shown that artificially-sweetened beverages may not be harmless and high consumption is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease,” said lead author Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, Associate Professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the US.

For the study, researchers included 81,714 post-menopausal women aged 50-79 years.

The results in post-menopausal women may not be generalisable to men or younger women.

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Furthermore, stroke risks more than doubled in women without previous heart disease or diabetes and obese women without previous heart disease or diabetes. Pixabay

Also Read: Top 3 Factors That Play a Major Role in Fertility Issues in Women

“The American Heart Association suggests water as the best choice for a no-calorie beverage,” suggested Rachel K. Johnson, Professor at the University of Vermont in the US.

“Since long-term clinical trial data are not available on the effects of low-calorie sweetened drinks and cardiovascular health, given their lack of nutritional value, it may be prudent to limit their prolonged use,” Johnson added. (IANS)