Various Facets of the #MeToo Movement

#MeToo movement needs no introduction. It has taken the world by storm. However, it is only recently that the movement has picked up in our country. It is a very sad yet happy time for us. Sad because of the heart-wrenching experiences of some people, yet happy because finally we are acknowledging the problem.

Media coverage of the #MeToo experiences and reaction of the people around, including those of the victims themselves, got me into thinking. It is not just about a victim and the accused, the impact of the movement is much broader and deeper. Through this article, let’s take a look at various facets of the movement.

The first and most important aspect of this movement is the credibility of the experience shared by a victim. There are only two possibilities; either the victim is speaking the truth or is lying.

It would be a travesty if there are some people manipulating information for taking revenge or for any other ulterior motive. My sincere request to all such people would be to not dilute the movement. Think of the people who have actually gone through such life-altering events. You may be able to execute your hidden agenda, but many ‘innocent’ and ‘real’ victims would never get justice. This is a ray of hope for them. Please do not blow it out before it gives justice to the victims. Think of the innocent people who would get punished or get labelled as ‘sex predators’? Imagine their plight. What if somebody does this to your near and dear ones?

Now coming to the real victims, who are simply speaking the truth – a truth that was haunting them for ages; a truth that they wanted to speak out, but had no one listening to them; and a truth that would have unfortunately created more problems for them instead.

A lot of people are asking why the victims took so long to share their experiences? Excuse me! Somebody who has not gone through such an experience can never imagine the trauma. Moreover, if the victim could not share his/ her ordeal with anybody, then everybody around that person is to be blamed, not the victim. It is the society that is to be blamed; a society that labels some victims as ‘hungry for publicity’, or passes comments like “S/He was asking for it” and “It’s okay; this happens.” It takes a lot of courage to re-live such experiences. It gives a lot of pain – again.

One must not forget that a lot of the victims were kids when they had such experiences. How can one expect a kid to be able to deal with such instances when many times the perpetrator is somebody from amongst his/her own? How can a kid deal with it when s/he has never been taught about such things? How can a kid deal with it when somebody s/he shares it with, ignores it or asks him/her to let it go?

The problem is with the mindset of the sick people who do such heinous things, of the judgemental people around, and of the narrow-minded society. The problem is definitely not with the victims.

#MeToo experiences are not easy to handle for the victim and the accused. We all know that, but what about the friends and family of the accused? How do they deal with it? We need to be sensitive towards them as well because many times they are caught unawares. They get punished for a crime they did not commit. They too get labelled. They too feel cheated and ashamed.

And, how do the family or friends of the accused react? Do they simply distance themselves on the first allegation? The answer is simple yet very difficult to implement. If you know that your relative or friend is guilty, please do not support him/her or do not try to protect him/her. You can always support him/her improve, but after getting punished. On the other hand, if you know that your friend or relative is innocent, then come what may, you must stand by him/her. Don’t think that you too would get labelled, but stand for what is right. However, if you do not know the truth, simply don’t take a stand for or against the accused. Just stand by him/her till the truth comes out.

It is human nature to think that such things cannot happen to us or that any of our own people could never be perpetrators of such heinous crimes. Sorry folks, as much as we would not want to believe it, our relative or friend can also be a sexual predator because the ones who do it are also somebody’s relative or friend. Please do not turn a blind eye to such incidents. It is a sad reality. Face it!

This discussion would not be complete without discussing the media. I understand that the media, especially social media, has given some hope to the victims. Kudos to them for covering such news! However, as always, some media houses are sensationalising the issue. Such experiences require sensitivity, not sensationalism. According to law, a person is innocent till proven guilty. Please refrain from trial by media however profitable that may be. Think of the innocent people involved. How would you feel if such a thing were to happen to you?

Nothing should be preferred before justice. Let’s give the #MeToo victims and the falsely-accused-people the justice and respect they deserve. It is a watershed moment for our society and could shape the future of how we live. Well begun is half done; the other half is up to ‘you’, ‘me’, and ‘us’. Let’s show solidarity with the victims – the least we can do to help them heal and make our society safer.

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About the Author: Shobhika Puri

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