For a very long time, there has been immense usage of various social media platforms to highlight sexual harassment women have faced at some or the other point in their lives. It is indeed a very courageous step to speak about their horrific experiences, and tell it to the whole world. It is something which fills us with joy that these women have finally started coming out of their shells and taken a step towards protecting their self-respect and dignity. It is certainly difficult to express a part of their life in public. I am confident that social media has given these survivors a platform.
The #MeToo phenomenon, although has started by American civil right activist Tarana Burke in the year 2006, has really found its ground in the year 2018 and has been a turning point for women fighting for equality and justice across the world. However, what is saddening is that there are eyes filled with suspicion when someone narrates an ordeal which occurred around 10 years ago.
Why did it take so long to disclose? Why should we believe you now? Are you even telling the truth or just ‘playing the women card’ to defame an innocent man? These are some of the questions which are raised. No woman would come out to tell these things just for grabbing the eyeballs. Incidents like these affect the survivor physically, mentally, and emotionally. Circumstances like these push them to trauma that haunts them for an extended period. So much so that they might cut themselves off from the external atmosphere. In many cases, it results in psychological issues which they have to face alone.
Also many times, influential names are involved—people both powerful and wealthy. Any act which suppresses a survivors voice and discourages them would be considered to oppress them and cast a shadow over their courage in the future. Also, even if some woman cries wolf, it would eventually impact the whole struggle, which so many women have undertaken to ensure equality. Just because of a false alarm, we do not have the liberty to declare all such alarms false. At the same time, not all cases are to be considered genuine.
In a patriarchal society like ours, men find it especially difficult to accept someone else’s trauma. They may malign the story as redundant. However, when it comes to chronicles narrated by women close to them, they tend to be protective. This hypocrisy has been passed on from generation to generation, and has to be changed. We as educated individuals have a moral responsibility to give unconditional support to the survivors, irrespective of whether we know them or not.
Nevertheless, every coin has two sides. This theory applies to each narrative of harassment. If social media has given the platform to women to put forth their experience, even the accused should be given due space to narrate their side as well. Anyhow, social media should not be a space to pass judgment about any of these ordeals. The accusations of sexual harassment, or rape, are very grave. We have the judiciary to look upon these cases and ensure that justice is done. Science is a double-sided knife. It is this which has given us a platform like social media.
Last but not least, expecting every survivor to file a case in the first place rather than sharing it on social media is also not possible. This is because it involves their families as well. We as a society have not progressed to such a level that we question the accused rather than the survivor. Even today, it is the survivor whose reputation is ‘tarnished’. We must teach boys to respect women rather than teaching girls self-defence.
Till the time questions such as “What was she doing there?” or “Why did she wear inviting clothes?” are being asked, the #MeToo struggle will have a long and a tedious journey ahead.