Following Tanushree Dutta’s allegations of sexual harassment against actor Nana Patekar, scores of women have come out in public to narrate their stories of sexual abuse. The sudden spike in number of women opening up on social media about their experiences of sexual misconduct has led to the debate whether or not #MeToo movement has hit India.
The #MeToo wave that started in America, taking down Oscar awardee Hollywood filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, has now become a worldwide phenomenon. The Harvey Weinstein case happened in October 2017. One year later, US Supreme Court judge Justice Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by various women. This case could impact the #MeToo movement in India as well.
On October 6, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court after the Senate voted 50 to 48 in his favour. As we all know, being a Supreme Court judge is a big thing, and in America, once you are sworn in, you become a Supreme Court judge for life.
During Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination procedure he was accused of sexual assault and misconduct by various women. One of the women who levelled these charges was Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. What made Dr Ford’s allegations stronger was her credibility, stellar academic record, and her association with top Universities in America. She accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when she was 15.
During the senate judiciary hearing, which heard both statements from Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, it was decided at the last minute that a brief FBI investigation should be conducted. However, people ridiculed the investigation for various reason, notably that the FBI hadn’t even talked to the main accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
Despite the allegations of sexual assault, flawed FBI investigation, and mass protests where hundreds have been arrested, Brett Kavanaugh has been sworn into the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh himself has a stellar record at the highest levels of the American judiciary, but this case and the allegations of sexual assault will always be remembered.
This case is a chilling reminder that merely naming the accused and bringing forward the incidents of sexual abuse and assault is not enough to root out the deeper systemic issues that plague society in both America and India. Yes, Dr Christine Ford was correct in bringing forward her truth since society needs to know who they are electing to power. Yes, Tanushree Dutta was correct in bringing forward her case and full strength to her for doing so. But merely naming a person in public doesn’t address the deeper issues which require much more effort at a societal level to tackle, such as the issue of sexual harassment. Issues related to how we raise our children, sex education, lack of vocalization by our so-called role models, and mistrust in the legal system have to be addressed to end sexual violence against people of any gender or sexual orientation.
#MeToo is a start, but is not and cannot become an end in itself. Without the fight there is no other way to make this world a better, brighter, and happier place. And let us hope that the heroes and heroines are the ones who live happily ever after, and not the villains.