Me Too movement (India)

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The Me Too movement in India is a manifestation of the international Me Too movement that is currently taking place in parts of Indian society including government, media, and the Bollywood film industry. In India, the Me Too movement is seen as either an independent outgrowth influenced by the international campaign against sexual harassment of women in the workplace, or an offshoot of the American "Me Too" social movement.[1] Me Too began gaining prominence in India with the increasing popularity of the international movement, and later gathered sharp momentum in October 2018 in the entertainment industry of Bollywood, centered in Mumbai, when actress Tanushree Dutta accused Nana Patekar of sexual harassment.[2] This led to many women in the news media, Indian films, and even within the government to speak out and bring allegations of sexual harassment against a number of prominent men.[3]

Origins in India[edit]

Malayalam film industry[edit]

A regional precursor to the "Me Too" movement in India was a 2017 rape court case in the Malayalam film industry in the state of Kerala.[4] While the case did not gain national coverage or social traction on a larger scale, it did inspire a select number of individuals within the industry to speak out against abuse and to take a stand for women's freedom, similar to the Harvey Weinstein case in the US, which occurred later in the year. It also provided a vantage point for comparison between the responses of two Indian film industries, Malayalam and Hindi, and the contrasting responses that they respectively received from their communities based on how socially widespread the events were perceived to be.[5]

On 17 February 2017, a Malayalam actress was assaulted by a group of men.[6] The primary person accused for hiring the men was actor Dileep, who was arrested in July 2017, before the Me Too movement had begun on a wide scale in Hollywood.[7][8] This sparked something similar to that movement in the Malayalam film industry.[8][9] A year later, on 9 October 2018, Bollywood casting director Tess Joseph posted an allegation against Malayalam actor Mukesh on Twitter.[10] She stated that Mukesh phoned her and asked her to move to a room closer to his in the hotel where they were both staying.[11][12][13]

In May 2017, inspired by the events of Dileep's case, the organization Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) was formed by several prominent women in the Malayalam film industry, including actress Manju Warrier, editor Beena Paul, and director Anjali Menon. They sought to "address the gender issues within the industry, which include lack of security, basic security and to ensure women's participation in the industry's activities."[14]

In June 2018, the WCC strongly condemned the decision of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) to reinstate actor Dileep into their organization.[15] In a Facebook post, they questioned the decision, asking whether the organisation did not find anything wrong in reinstating a person accused of sexual assault even before the completion of the trial and announced that four actresses including the rape survivor are resigning from AMMA in protest against the decision. It termed the decision as “reeking of misogyny” and “an insult to the survivor.” In addition to WCC, several politicians and media personalities criticized AMMA for its decision to reinstate Dileep following which the film body agreed to conduct talks with WCC members regarding the decision.[16]

After the talks, AMMA informed WCC that the decision to reinstate Dileep could only be reversed by a general body meeting which would not be organised any time soon. This angered WCC members who conducted a press conference to announce that they had lost faith in the leadership of AMMA and would start exposing the malpractices taking place inside the organisation to the public.[17] AMMA finally announced that it had accepted the resignation letter of Dileep and had appointed a committee to look into the complaints of its female members.[18]

During the press conference conducted by WCC, actress Archana Padmini revealed a negative experience she suffered at the hands of Sherin Stanly, a production controller on the sets of the movie Pullikkaran Staraa. After two days, actress Divya Gopinath accused actor Alencier Ley Lopez of harassment during the shooting of the film Aabhaasam, and her allegations were backed by the director of the film later.[19][20]

In October 2018, after the 'Me Too' movement gained national traction, Director Anjali Menon wrote a blog post about the issue; in her post, she highlighted how the Malayalam film industry has remained silent on the alleged actress abduction case. Menon wrote about the Bollywood scriptwriter Vinta Nanda’s #MeToo accusation. She praised the swift reaction of Mumbai’s film industry in backing Vinta Nanda and questioned why the Malayalam film industry hasn’t woken up and started any “proactive action supporting the survivors”.[21]

Influence of Hollywood's "Me Too" Movement[edit]

MeToo began in October 2017 as a hashtag started by American actress Alyssa Milano who shared her story of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein. The hashtag caught like wildfire when women from across the world began talking about their survivor stories. In India, however, this MeToo movement [22] didn't take flight until actress Tanushree Dutta decided to speak up once against actor Nana Patekar. What began as one woman's story soon became a phenomenon when names of powerful men in the country started surfacing. From actor Alok Nath to journalist MJ Akbar, the movement has brought to light many stories of sexual harassment and abuse.

After allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the use of the #MeToo hashtag on social media with respect to the event spread quickly in India,[23][24] where sexual harassment is commonly referred to by the word 'eve-teasing', a term described as misleading, tame, and diluting the seriousness of the crime.[25] In response to #MeToo, there have been attempts to teach Indian women about workplace rights and safe reporting, as well as educating men about the scope of the problem.[23][26] Some have likened #MeToo to a 2012 social movement which followed a violent gang rape in New Delhi that later resulted in a woman's death, which caused the Indian government to institute harsher punishments for rape.[24][27][28] Others have suggested there was underlying public anger over a Delhi rape conviction that was overturned by Judge Ashutosh Kumar a month before against filmmaker and writer Mahmood Farooqui, ruling that a "feeble no" was not enough to revoke consent because it was typical for one partner to be less willing. The case is being appealed to the Supreme Court.[27][29] Activist Jasmeen Patheja, head of Blank Noise, stated #MeToo's power is in demonstrating India can no longer ignore the scope of the problem.[24] Kaimini Jaiswal, a lawyer at the Supreme Court of India, stressed the importance of teaching women how to read, especially in rural villages, because most women in these areas are illiterate and completely financially and emotionally dependent on a male relative.[28]

Blogger Sheena Dabolkar's viral #MeToo tweet resulted in the boycott of Khodu Irani's popular Pune pub High Spirits, by several well-known performers.[23][30][31] Several women mentioned Mahesh Murthy, which initiated a police case in January 2018.[32] Trends Desk of The Indian Express wrote that many Indian men are speaking up as a part of #MeToo, including discussions about consent and how some men are also abused.[33][34] Rina Chandran of Reuters said #MeToo is ignoring the 600,000 women in India who are currently sex workers against their will, and are typically poor without education or family.[35]

There were reports of mass sexual assaults during the 2018 New Year's celebrations in Bangalore, which have been associated with #MeToo. The incidents were initially dismissed by the police until someone uploaded CCTV footage of the assaults to social media.[28] Home Minister G. Parameshwara, Abu Azmi, and other officials came under fire for stating "western" women's clothing and values were the cause of the rapes, and indicated women's families should not allow them to go to parties or major celebrations.[28]

Several lists of alleged rapists and harassers started spreading on social media in India, including "The List", which initially included the names of about 60 highly respected academic men. The List was posted on October 24, 2017 by activist Inji Pennu and an Indian student in California named Raya Sarkar, who alleged they personally confirmed every incident.[36][37] This list has resulted in criticism against #MeToo because the allegations were unverified before they started spreading on social media. Some of the victims from the list have come forward to explain they were ignored, mistreated, or retaliated against when they tried to pursue action.[38] Sarkar has defended The List, saying that she posted it only to warn her friends about professors and academics to avoid (mostly upper-caste men), and had no idea it would become so popular.[37] A second list came out a week later that was made by women from lower caste backgrounds and included more names, bringing the total up to around 70.[36]

Twelve prominent Indian feminists dismissed The List in a formal letter, saying they understand that the justice system is typically tilted against victims, but unverified claims make things harder for the feminist movement.[36][39] Writers Rhea Dangwal and Namrata Gupta responded that most victims from the list were poor students who tried to go through official channels without success or recourse, while every single man on the list has the ability to defend himself socially and legally.[36]

Tanushree Dutta's allegations[edit]

Actress Tanushree Dutta's allegations of sexual harassment in 2018 was a catalyst of the "Me Too" movement in India

On 26 September 2018, after having been out of the Bollywood spotlight for about a decade, actress Tanushree Dutta gave an interview to Zoom TV in which she publicly accused Nana Patekar of sexually harassing her on the set of the 2009 movie Horn 'Ok' Pleassss.[40][41] This declaration would be seen as the catalyst of the Me Too movement in India, similar to one which happened in the U.S. a year earlier with Harvey Weinstein, in which more and more women in the entertainment industry would publicly announce high-profile individuals who had sexually exploited them.[42] Dutta had first made the allegations against Patekar in 2008, filing a complaint with the 'CINTAA' (Cine & TV Artists Association), but no action was taken as the case was considered a criminal case. The allegation was repeated in 2013 in an interview,[43] and again largely ignored. It was not until her September 2018 statements that the CINTAA apologized to Dutta, admitting that the "chief grievance of sexual harassment wasn't even addressed [in 2008]", but added that since the case was more than three years old, they could not reopen it.[44][45][46][47][48][49]

Janice Sequeira, a journalist, backed her allegations, claiming to be an eyewitness to the incident.[50] She also alleged that filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri had told her to remove her clothes and dance with Irrfan Khan to act on the sets of Chocolate. She said Irrfan Khan and Sunil Shetty stood up for her during this episode.[51][52] Vivek refuted all such allegations and shared that it is an attempt to get publicity by Tanushree Dutta and to malign his image in a legal notice sent to her.[53] The assistant director of Chocolate, Sattyajit Gazmer, also denied Tanushree's claims.[54]

In an interview, Tanushree said "He (Nana Patekar) called the MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) party to bash up my car. He was behind everything and was supported by choreographer Ganesh Acharya".[55] In a video from 2008 that went viral on the internet, goons are seen thrashing Tanushree's car. A journalist named Pawan Bharadwaj, was seen thrashing the car's windshield with his camera, and later clarified that he attacked her car because earlier, he had a fight with Dutta's team.[56] A defamation case was filed against her for her comments about the MNS party.[57] She was also served with two legal notices from Nana Patekar and Vivek Agnihotri.[57] On 6 October 2018, Dutta filed an FIR at Oshiwara police station against actor Nana Patekar, director Rakesh Sarang, choreographer Ganesh Acharya, and producer Sami Siddiqui.[58]

Impact[edit]

Notable people who have shared their "Me Too" stories unanonymously include:

Entertainment[edit]

Phantom Films[edit]

In October 2018, in an interview with Huffington Post India, a former employee of Phantom Films accused director Vikas Bahl of sexually harassing her on the set of the film Queen (2014).[90] Later, the film's lead actress Kangana Ranaut, in support of the former employee, also accused Bahl of sexual misconduct.[91][92] Following this, Nayani Dixit, Ranaut's co-star in the movie, levelled similar accusations against Bahl.[93] As a result, Phantom Films announced its dissolution on 5 October 2018,[94] largely in response to the sexual assault allegation against Bahl by another former Phantom employee, which was reported in 2015.[95] The other three founders, Kashyap, Motwane, and Mantena, all issued statements on Twitter confirming the company's disbanding and moving on to independent projects.[96]

All India Bakchod (AIB)[edit]

Stand-up comedian and popular YouTuber Utsav Chakraborty, who works as a freelancer with the comedy group All India Bakchod, has been accused of sending women lewd messages and photos via social messaging apps. The allegations against Utsav blew up when a Twitter user named Mahima Kukreja put up a Twitter post accusing the comedian of sending her an unsolicited picture of his genitalia and then pleading with her not to make his act public as it would "ruin" his career.[97] Most[citation needed] of the comedians within his circle, including Kunal Kamra and Tanmay Bhat, knew about his habit of harassing underage girls but opted to keep quiet and work with him.[98] On 8 October 2018, Gursimran Khamba provided clarification on some sexual harassment allegations reported by an unknown girl who claimed Khamba had sexually assaulted her. Khamba, on the other hand, denied the allegation, claiming that the relationship was consensual.[99] On 16 October 2018, Yash Raj Films (YRF) terminated the services of Ashish Patil, who was their Vice-President of Brand Partnerships and Talent Management, and Business and Creative Head for Y Films, after he was accused of forcibly kissing and making advances on an anonymous aspiring actress. The anonymous woman texted her #MeToo story to an activist who tweeted screenshots with the woman's permission.[100]

Housefull 4[edit]

On 12 October 2018, after accusations from several women of abusive and perversive sexual behavior, director Sajid Khan announced that he would step back from the production of his upcoming film Housefull 4 until he could clear his name.[101] Actor Akshay Kumar also made a statement on Twitter, confirming Sajid's stepping away and also halting shooting of the film until further notice.[102] Later in the day, actor Nana Patekar noted that he would also be leaving the film, due to accusations against him by ex-actress Tanushree Dutta.[103] On 14 October, it was announced that Farhad Samji, who co-directed Housefull 3, would be replacing Sajid Khan as the director.[104] On 15 October 2018, The Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association issued a show cause notice to Khan, which read “Your...actions have brought disrepute to Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association,”. It further noted that they expected an explanation from Khan "for such offensive behaviour within seven days of the receipt of the notice for further action as per the rules and regulations… In case of no reply, ex-parte decision would be taken.”[105]

Fox Star Studios India[edit]

On 19 October, 2018, casting director and first-time film director Mukesh Chhabra was suspended by the Fox Star Studios India company from directing their Bollywood remake of The Fault in Our Stars (titled Kizie Aur Manny) pending an inquiry against him over sexual harassment allegations. Chhabra has denied the charges, telling a newspaper that he would pursue "every possible legal action to protect my reputation." In a statement, Fox Star Studios said that Chhabra was suspended until "the Internal Complaints Committee of Mukesh Chhabra Casting Company concludes its inquiry into the allegations against him."[106]

Alok Nath v. Vinta Nanda[edit]

In October 2018, veteran character actor Alok Nath was accused of rape by TV producer Vinta Nanda who worked with him in the TV show Tara in the mid-1990s.[107] Alok Nath has denied the allegation.[108][109] Subsequently, actresses Renuka Shahane, Himani Shivpuri, Sandhya Mridul, and Deepika Amin have either admitted to knowing about Nath's predatory behaviour or written about instances where they themselves have been assaulted by him.[110][111][112][113][114] On 15 October 2018, Nath sued Nanda for defamation, asking for a written apology and 1 as compensation. He has filed the case jointly with his wife Ashu Nath.[115] The Cine and TV Artists Association (CINTAA) sent Mr. Nath a show cause notice on Vinta Nanda's post. The association asked why he should not be expelled from CINTAA. The actor urged that the notice be withdrawn, that he was innocent until proven guilty. In response to Alok Nath's lawsuit, on 15 October Vinta Nanda's lawyer responded: "She will not be intimidated by threats and defamation suits which are primarily meant to delay and distract from the gravity of the allegations." Alok Nath had earlier been quoted by ABP News as saying he could "neither deny nor agree" with Ms Nanda's account of rape and violation on Facebook. The writer had not named him but had identified him as the "Sanskaari actor" who played the lead on her show "Tara".[115]

On 14 November 2018, the CINTAA expelled Alok Nath from their organization after he failed to appear at a body meeting on 12 November to discuss his rape accusations against Vinta Nanda, and instead sent a response to the 'show-cause' notice instead. CINTAA secretary general Sushant Singh noted that the group's EC (Executive Committee) "unanimously voted him out." When asked if the organization should have allowed its Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to handle the case, Singh responded that the ICC had not yet been completely trained in POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) on how to "hear cases, take a deposition, cross-question, among many other things," and that they had to follow their "current provisions" for now. Nanda responded to the expulsion by applauding the decision, saying that "at the end of the day we all have to acknowledge that we are answerable and accountable to our governing bodies. It’s only then, that institutions like CINTAA, IFTDA (Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association) and Screenwriters Association (SWA) will achieve the status they deserve."[116]

KWAN Entertainment[edit]

On 16 October 2018, entertainment talent management agency KWAN announced that founder Anirban Blah had been asked to step down after four women publicly accused him of harassment. In a statement, KWAN said," We have asked Anirban Blah to forthwith step aside from his duties, activities and responsibilities at KWAN, its subsidiaries and affiliates with immediate effect." The company, which promotes high-profile celebrities such as Deepika Padukone, Tiger Shroff, and Ranbir Kapoor, has a Prevention of Sexual Harassment committee in place.[117]

Vairamuthu[edit]

Vairamuthu, Tamil poet, lyricist, author, and a recipient of various awards including the Padma Bhushan and Sahitya Akademi Award, was accused of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment by several women singers and artists from the Tamil film industry.[118] [119]A few women described their allegations anonymously, but Singer Chinmayi used her Twitter account to highlight the instances of intimidation and harassment she suffered at his hands. Following this, Sindhuja Rajaram, an artist, photographer, and musician based in California, United States, also accused Vairamuthu and detailed the harassment she faced due to him.[120] Vairamuthu remained noncommittal about the allegations against him on Twitter.[121] On 15 October 2018, he made an official video statement saying that he found the allegations against him unfounded and challenged his accusers to take legal action against him.[122]

Salman Khan[edit]

Pooja Misrra, ex-Bigg Boss contestant, alleged that the brothers Salman Khan, Arbaaz Khan, and Sohail Khan raped her multiple times while she was unconscious.[71]

Arjun Sarja[edit]

In October 2018, Sruthi Hariharan, a major actress of Kannada cinema, revealed multiple instances of actor Arjun Sarja's misbehaviour towards her. The actress revealed that Arjun had made unwelcome advances towards her during the making of Nibunan (2017), by often changing the script to include more physically intimate scenes.[123]

Indian Idol[edit]

On 21 October 2018, singer/composer/TV show judge Anu Malik was asked to step down from judging the reality TV show Indian Idol 10 after being accused of sexual harassment from multiple women. An assistant producer on Indian Idol 5, Danica D'Souza, has been reported as saying that the producers knew of Malik's harassing behaviour, but previously had not taken it seriously enough. D'Souza noted that "They knew he abused power but nothing came of it. In fact, they told us all to take precaution by not meeting him alone."[124]

Later that day, Sony TV released an official statement regarding Malik's dismissal: ""Anu Malik is no longer a part of the Indian Idol jury panel. The show will continue its planned schedule and we will invite some of the biggest names in Indian music as guests to join Vishal and Neha to judge Indian Idol season 10." Malik himself released a statement: "I, Anu Malik, have decided to take a break from Indian Idol as I am currently unable to focus on my work, my music and the show".[125]

In the 1990s, singer Alisha Chinai had also accused Malik of molesting her, but faced legal challenges in doing so. She filed a case against him and demanded ₹2,660,000, whereas in return, Malik had filed a defamation case asking for ₹20,000,000 from Chinai. Chinai eventually won the legal battle in an "unprecedented landmark verdict", and a restraining order was passed against Malik. She vowed to never work with Malik again but eventually forgave him, and sang for him in a song in the film Ishq Vishq, which Malik musically directed; the two later judged a season of Indian Idol together.[126]

News and media[edit]

  • After multiple allegations of sexual harrassment, psychological torture, and sending explicit material, the resident editor of the Times of India (a leading publication in the country), K.R. Sreenivas, resigned on 13 October 2018.[127]
  • On 8 October, Prashant Jha stepped down as the Chief of Bureau and Political Editor of the Hindustan Times, a leading daily newspaper, after charges of sexual harassment filed against him by a former employee.[128]
  • On 14 October 2018, film director Nishtha Jain, in a Facebook post, accused The Wire anchor Vinod Dua[129] of stalking, slobbering, and sexually harassing her in June 1989.[130] Dua's daughter Mallika Dua said that she will let her father fight his battle and will stand by him.[131] On 17 October, Dua, in a statement on the sexual harassment accusation against him, mocked the #MeToo movement as "trivial" in an election year in the latest episode of his The Wire show 'Jan Gan Man Ki Baat'. Dua said he was suspending his show for a week for The Wire to probe the sexual harassment allegation against him.[132][133]
  • On October 10, Stalin K of Video Volunteers was accused by an intern from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, of sexual misconduct. Subsequently, TISS has issued an advisory dissociating itself from him and Video Volunteers. After this, several other instances of sexual harassment have also surfaced in the media, and they are currently under investigation by the ICC of Video Volunteers.[134]

Politics and law[edit]

Minister of State (MOS) of External Affairs[edit]

In October 2018, MJ Akbar, India’s Minister of state for External Affairs, was accused of sexual harassment by several female colleagues.[135][136][137][138][139] At least ten allegations have emerged against Akbar, the first public servant in high office to be accused. Akbar's colleagues, including Smriti Irani and Maneka Gandhi, have acknowledged the online testimonies against him and called for a probe. The Ministry of Women and Child Development announced that a panel would be set up to examine the existing legal framework for harassment at work.[140]

In mid-October, a 41-page letter was written to Delhi’s chief metropolitan magistrate by Akbar, which accused journalist Priya Ramani of defaming him on scandalous grounds. Ramani said she was “deeply disappointed” with Akbar’s decision to take legal action against her.[141]

On 16 October, journalist Tushita Patel (wife of Aakar Patel, director of Amnesty International India) published an article on Scroll.in detailing instances of sexual harassment by Akbar during meetings with him in the early 1990s, when Akbar was the editor-in-chief of the Deccan Chronicle, and Patel was a senior sub-editor. In a calmly indignant tone, Patel narrated separate incidents in which Akbar indecently exposed himself to her, and also forcibly kissed her, leaving her traumatized. She ended the article affirming the power of the solidarity and union of his female victims, who would be vocal against him in court proceedings: "The same sisterhood of solidarity that held our hands through the darkest times of our lives will come out only because you continue to be brazen. We are not confused, conflicted or vulnerable any more. Our time to speak is now – when we don’t have to run to a police station to lodge a complaint before anyone would give us a hearing."[142] M.J. Akbar resigned from the post of Minister of State for External Affairs on 17 October, having decided to fight in a personal capacity the allegations made against him.[143]

On 18 October, the Editors Guild of India posted an official statement that requested Akbar to withdraw his defamation case against his accusers, and also offered legal and other support to any of the affected women (present or in the future) in his case or others: "If any of them were to need legal advice or assistance, the Guild will do the best it can to help and also appeal to eminent lawyers to represent them pro bono."[144]

Also on 18 October, Akbar's hearing for his defamation case began at the Patiala House Courts in Delhi. Akbar himself was not present, but was represented by his lawyer Geeta Luthra. Luthra said that "at this stage all that she has to show is that Akbar's reputation has suffered, and that the allegedly defamatory remarks were read by others." The court said that it would record his statement on October 31, 2018.[145]

National Students Union of India (NSUI) national president[edit]

On 16 October 2018, Rahul Gandhi, president of the INC, accepted NSUI national president Fairoz Khan's resignation after he was accused of sexual harassment. He was accused by a female member of the INC from Chhattisgarh. INC had ordered a three-member committee to investigate the matter. Khan denied the charges but stated he was stepping down as it was hurting the party's image. The woman had first complained against Khan to Rahul Gandhi in June 2018. She also demanded protection, as she feared for her life.[146]

Education[edit]

Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication (SCMC)[edit]

Alumni of the Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication (SCMC) in Pune took to social media to share harrowing accounts of harassment by some faculty members and their seniors; about 25 students and alumni of the college shared their ordeals, charging two faculty members and some senior students with harassment and molestation. [140] They also said that the institution failed to take concrete action against the accused faculty members. Soon afterwards, SCMC authorities issued an apology on Facebook and promised an investigation by the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC).[147]

Dr Vidya Yeravdekar, principal director of Symbiosis Society, said that the Symbiosis University Management is "doing its best to abide by UGC rules." He noted that a "high power internal complaints committee, consisting of the vice-chancellor, dean, registrar and the director of the institution, has been constituted." The committee, he said, will take necessary steps to investigate any claims and consequences.[148]

On 21 October, the university decided to send Anupam Siddhartha, director of SCMC, on leave pending an inquiry. In the days prior, a petition had been signed by 106 students, both current students and alumni of SCMC, who gave "graphic details of years of alleged harassment and abuse at the hands of the SCMC director," as reported by NDTV. Vidya Yeravdekar, principal director of SIU, said, “There was already an internal complaints committee, which had been set up to look into the allegations raised in the past, some of which were against Siddhartha... some of the allegations were shocking and we immediately referred it to the ICC, who called him on Saturday for investigations. Based on the recommendation of the ICC, which has said that he should stay away from campus duties pending an inquiry, he will be sent on leave from Monday.” Yeravdekar confirmed that Siddhartha's leave of absence was an interim solution, and that the University “will announce the final decision after receiving the ICC’s complete report."[149]

Challenges[edit]

India’s Me Too movement differs in key ways from the movement in the United States.[141] The allegations against Harvey Weinstein were investigated by reliable sources in the US, while in India, accusations emerged on social media, where women posted their grievances.[141] In addition, laws against defamation in India allow the prosecution of women who are unable to prove their allegations, with a maximum jail term of two years, while the First Amendment protects such rights in the United States.[141] As a result, activists began to work towards strengthening the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which was implemented poorly since its establishment.[141]

As of mid-October 2018, the social "Me Too" campaign of India has continued to grow and be covered by major media outlets as a topic of importance, with victims outing their abusers on a nearly daily basis.[150] The movement has since resulted in major social consequences for several of those accused, such as firing or resignation from their jobs, condemnation and disassociation from members of their respective industries, and indignation against their actions from their fans and/or the public at large. Similarly, accusers have also been the target of countersuits from the accused, even as they often have social support and added coverage from the media.[140]

Criticism[edit]

Journalist Seema Mustafa has expressed encouragement for the women who have shared their personal experiences and has said that this is a big achievement for India’s women's movement, but she has also felt that the movement lacks internal criticism, which would have been helpful in strengthening the cause.[151] Tavleen Singh of ‘’The Indian Express’’ has criticized the Me Too movement participants in India, claiming the ‘liberals’ leading the movement are illiberal towards disagreements with their point of view.[152] Govind Krishnan V of ‘’Firstpost’’ concurred with Mustafa's sentiments and additionally stated that one limitation of the movement in India was that it shuts itself from constructive criticism, which would help to strengthen the movement.[153] As an analogy, he mentioned that feminism has evolved over time due to this type of criticism: “Me Too movement needs more nuanced and richer conversations which have space for debate, disagreement and dissent. The movement needs deeper forms of engagement and a collective will to develop a self-critical discourse which can generate essential kind of intellectual spade work.” [153]

Mustafa also expressed her reservations about the tone and tenor of the Me Too movement on social media. A key point of her criticism was the movement's 'inability to differentiate between a man who is guilty of rape and sexual assault from a man who solicited a woman with a drink, or an unacceptable text message', arguing it offers the same ‘punishment’ for all. Krishna too shared the viewpoint, writing, “This remains a challenge of great importance for India’s MeToo, which it has not yet succeeded in overcoming”.[153] Mustafa and Singh both said that the current movement in India is “exclusive, elite and metropolitan in nature”, failing to represent ordinary Indians.[151][152]

Mustafa has spoken of justice as a concept where an innocent man is not supposed to be framed, even if it means the guilty get away.[151] She has rebuked the Me Too movement as “too subjective, arbitrary and without due responsibility”.[151] Mustafa has also criticized the “mob mentality” of the movement as the accusations on social media deny the accused a proper chance to defend themselves.[151]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]