Past events of brave name dropping and firm assertiveness by Tanushree Dutta has carved a path for many more victims to come forward. In this sense, Dutta has become a torchbearer of the #MeToo cause.
It is no surprise that Bollywood has tried to dismiss complaints of new actresses and shut their doors to those who have raised even a squeak -let alone have their story heard. Most debates about the issue of women coming out with horrific stories from their past have resulted in the question – why now? Although, a valid response, could have been extending support and taking action.
Tanushree Dutta’s case is not different. Dutta was not the most established actress; however, the accused actor was. It is this experience and standing that prevented her from getting a suitable response from any cogent authority. Now the question arises, is it only the seniority and stature of the actor that made him so blatantly ignorant of Dutta’s rights as a human being?
One issue that #MeToo movement has come to highlight – is that it’s not seniority or stature, neither age that defines what ‘boundaries’ are. It is the perspective that some men seem to have acquired – that they can somehow make a woman or a child feel uncomfortable for momentary pleasure at the cost of their right to dignity.
It is not a discovery that has roped in through the movement, but it is an appropriate reminder for us- that women have not achieved the status of dignity that their male counterparts casually enjoy. Many similar stories have now found a platform, the ever-expanding space of the social media is now being used to let out the shunned fears and unheard tales of violations at the hands of people who perpetuate and encourage crimes against women.
One such case that has come to light is of Vinta Nanda, the writer and producer of the 90’s hit show Tara, who has spoken up about the years of torture and shame brought upon her by a leading actor in the show. Nanda’s story is 20 years old, but what it encapsulates is that women who are molested or raped cannot be subjected to a specific timeline for them to come out. There are several factors at play and situations to tackle, and the fear in their mind – is the biggest culprit of all.
Victim blaming and character assignation our society is conditioned to do – are merely dust in a looming sandstorm. What follows after a trauma, is devastating enough to break the very soul of a person. Victims are always asked to prove the truthfulness of what happened, to make matters worse.
This issue of ‘proof’ arises when some elements misuse the power and protection provided to them. The question that remains is why is that protections not extended towards someone who is harassed and violated. The law makes provision for both the protection of the victim and the one falsely accused; yet, the ignorant layman asks for proof only from the woman. We should keep in mind that the provisions can be misused by both the parties involved.
Surprisingly, the onus lies upon the victim to prove the reality of events, but not on the accused to prove their innocence. This is where we need the change. There is a need for us to ask relevant questions by bringing the accused down from the pedestal, and avoiding victim blaming at all costs.