"So I gave him a hug to say goodnight. He took my face in that moment, held right and kissed my mouth; tongue and all. It was all I could do to not jump out of the window and fly home. I scrambled for the door, muttered a goodnight and ran," wrote Sandhya Menon, writer and journalist on her twitter account. Going by accounts of Delhi Police alone, about 2,686 women had been assaulted till 15th October this year.
It is not a one-off racket that will die an easy death. While the year turns a new leaf, it is an appalling pit-less unearthing of a regressive mindset that women have suffered globally and who would have thought it would seize the world like an epidemic. It's about time, is it not? These demons won't be exorcised easily as even at the close of this year there are many tales untold of epic proportions, unfurling painfully.
After Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta accused Nana Patekar of sexual harassment 10 years ago on the sets of 'Horn Ok Please', the second wave of the #MeToo movement hit the nation with several women taking to social media to expose their sexual predators, most of them making anonymous revelations.
"As the evening flowed, my drinks were mixed and I began to feel strange. Then at around 2am I left his house. I started to walk home on the empty streets although the distance to my own house was long.
Midway I was accosted by this man who was driving his own car and he asked me to sit in it and said he would drop me home. I trusted him and sat in his car.
I have faint memory after that. I can remember more liquor being poured into my mouth and I remember being violated endlessly", wrote writer and producer, Vinta Nanda, accusing actor Alok Nath.
Distinguished film and media personalities were named and shamed this year in the wake of #metoo. Journalists like Priya Ramani and Ghazala accused Union Minister MJ Akbar of sexual harassment and assault when he was the editor of a national daily. With such high-profile exposé, floodgates were opened as women from all walks of life took to Twitter to tell their stories and hold the men accountable.
Social media and solidarity
Leading influencers on social media like Harnidh and Sukhnidh Kaur helped women stand in solidarity with each other. Protests and meet-ups were organised, lists of lawyers and psychologists were compiled to help the victims file cases and deal with the trauma. As MJ Akbar filed a defamation case against Priya Ramani, popular advocates, actors and journalists rallied in support of Ramani which led to his resignation.
As the movement gained currency in Hollywood, the first wave of the #MeToo movement hit India with Raya Sarkar, a law student compiling a list of academicians last year who were accused by students all over the country. The movement, however, died down soon without any major impact even with people directly naming and shaming exploiters and sexual harassers under the garb of Academia. The genesis is not recent by any means though, watch DNL's previous report on the ancestry of the subject, watch the video here.
Earlier this year, India was ranked as the most dangerous country for women by Thomson Reuters Foundation, leaving behind Afghanistan, Syria and Saudi Arabia. It has been noted that in a room full of women, all have been harassed at some point in their lives.
We questioned some women at IIMC campus, Delhi, about their source of information on #metoo and most confirmed the gigantic role of social media in spreading the awareness and lending the support.
Not a western 'fad'
"We all think this is a movement of the west, but it is not so, you might have heard of Bhavri Devi of Rajasthan, and hence this movement in India started with her a long time back. We can tag its global reference, but for India it has a totally different context as we have a history of patriarchal conventions and that is what we need to break. One solution I can think of is educating both the male and female members of our society," says Vishnupriya Pandey, faculty member, IIMC.
"This movement has empowered women and given them to confidence to tell their stories." says Nafisa, a journalism student.
The movement not only challenged the men sitting at the helm of organisations yielding undue power but also served a well-deserved blow to them. Powerful media personalities like Prashant Jha, Vinod Dua, Sumedh Natu, Meghnad Bose, C G Nair, K R Srinivasan and Gautam Adhikari; as well as the powerful men in the entertainment industry like Alok Nath, Vivek Agnihotri, Sajid Khan, Anu Malik, Vikas Bahl, Subhash Ghai and Rajat Kapoor and so many more were the casualties of the mammoth movement. Even influencers like Tanmay Bhatt and Gursimran Singh Khamba of AIB were suspended and sent on leave respectively.
The home minister has constituted a committee to investigate further. Organisations, on the other hand, have committed to forming Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to address the grievances of women at the workplace. There a big call for altering the societal and organizational framework making it more inclusive and more transparent to credit women with more authority. It's a revolution that won't die down easily, sadly it's a revolution for a granted constitutional right. It's a revolution that will hopefully equate the tipped scales.