The nation’s social media has been shook vehemently by the rage that began with the ongoing MeToo movement, which is perpetually witnessing women telling their tales of sexual harassment.
The movement caught pace in India after actor Tanushree Dutta accused senior actor Nana Patekar of sexually harassing her a decade ago on the set of movie ‘Horn OK Pleassss’. Dutta set the wheels in motion for the movement in the nation. From Union Minister MJ Akbar to directors Sajid Khan and Subhash Ghai, the biggest names were dragged into this muddle. Midst this row of allegations, several projects in the entertainment industry were halted, while many, voluntarily or involuntarily, stepped down from their respective projects.
Sajid Khan, who was directing ‘Housefull 4,’ walked out on the film after actor Akshay Kumar raised his concerns over the sexual harassment allegations against Khan. Patekar too abdicated the project.
Comedians Tanmay Bhatt and Gursimran Khamba too stepped away from the posts they held in Comedy group All India Bakchod after allegations of inaction over complains of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior were levelled against them. Moreover, Hotstar cancelled Season 3 of ‘On Air with AIB’ for the same reasons.
The MeToo movement has brought out some of the most unexpected names to limelight. Many women have come forward and alleged that actor Alok Nath, who in an inebriated state, had sexually harassed them. This came after the producer of show ‘Tara’, Vinta Nanda, accused Nath of raping her almost two decades ago. The actor in his defense filed a defamation case against Nanda. However, his fellow actors like Himani Shivpuri and Sandhya Mridul narrated their incidents of Nath’s misbehavior.
The take of the entertainment industry on the issue is split; some are against the victims and are holding social media trials on the accused, while actors like Farhan Akhtar, Malaika Arora, and Twinkle Khanna are supporting the movement.
Regardless of the contradictory views over the issue, the MeToo movement can be viewed as an initiative towards emancipating women in all aspects. However, those who have been accused without a grain of truth stand at the suffering side.
What has become a social phenomenon started with a social activist called Tarana Burke. She used the phrase “Me Too” in 2006 on a social networking site as part of a campaign to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women, who have experienced sexual abuse, particularly within underprivileged communities.
Presently, the onus lies on the man to prove his innocence, which might not be a possibility in a lot of cases. There’s no way to prove the reality behind closed doors. One needs to understand that not every woman crying for help is a victim, and not every man goes out looking for sexual favors. The recent examples of this are the mails author Chetan Bhagat exposed that were sent by her accuser. It questions the legitimacy of the allegations made against him. Instead of having social media trials on the accused or the victim, there should be a more balanced approach towards reasoning these things out.
It is inappropriate for the accused to opt for victim shaming in his defense. It is also inappropriate for the victim to opt for social media trials instead of going by the law. In a law abiding nation like ours, deprived of equal space for women, a movement of this sort is much needed to bring out the harsh survival stories in the public eye. However, it is imperative to ensure that it goes in the right direction.