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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
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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)

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Actor Ayushmann Khurrana Comes in Support of #MeToo Movement

The #MeToo movement gained momentum in India after actress Tanushree Dutta accused veteran actor Nana Patekar of harassment

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Ayushmann Khurrana
Men should understand what consent is: Ayushmann. (Wikimedia Commons)

Actor Ayushmann Khurrana has supported the #MeToo movement by saying that men should understand what consent is.

Ayushmann visited the PVR Citi Mall here on Saturday to know the audience’s reaction for his latest film “Badhaai Ho”.

Reacting to the #MeToo campaign that has gathered momentum in India, especially in Bollywood, Ayushmann told media: “The #MeToo movement is a good movement, but at the same time, I feel both parties should be given equal opportunities to share their account and to prove their innocence. Having said that, I feel women should be respected and they shouldn’t be harassed.

“There should be stringent rules at every workplace. It is not only about workplace, but I think that the code of conduct should be followed in every sphere of society, be it our family or where we live.”

Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has announced the formation of a committee of four retired judges and a lawyer to examine all issues emanating from #MeToo, a movement against sexual harassment.

Ayushmann Khurrana
Ayushmann Khurrana. (Wikimedia Commons)

Actors like Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar and Hrithik Roshan have also taken a firm stand against their colleagues, who have been accused in sexual harassment cases.

Asked whether these kind of measures are necessary to curb harassment at workplace, Ayushmann said: “I think we should have taken these measures long time ago, but whatever measures we have taken are absolutely correct.

“Women should feel safe whether it’s in journalism or sometimes we go to shoot, our films are in outdoor locations. We shoot there till late nights and not a single woman should feel unsafe there and men should understand what consent is and without that, you cannot do anything to anyone.

You May Also Like to Read About- Swara Bhaskar Feels That Social Media Must Have Civil Conduct

“No one can touch other person without his or her consent and if anyone does that, then strict action should be taken against that individual.”

The #MeToo movement gained momentum in India after actress Tanushree Dutta accused veteran actor Nana Patekar of harassment. (IANS)