For a woman transitioning from teenage into adulthood, sexual harassment has always haunted me from within.
Inappropriate gazes in the metro while travelling to college daily or ‘unmeant’ touches in DTC buses have become a daily part of any girl my age. And the constant reminder that this doesn’t stop even in highly professional workplaces where one is surrounded by educated intellectuals is one of the many reasons women in India hesitate in taking big career steps in their lives.
We as a society fail to acknowledge that men in upper-class backgrounds, coming from rich literate families can also perpetrate sexual abuse over women in professional as well as personal environments.
Court observes that Even a man of social status can be a sexual harasser.
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) February 17, 2021
Our culture refuses from accepting that rapes are done by ordinary men, men around you and me, men having friends and family, men holding high respect in their respective career fields. The entire Bollywood and self-proclaimed feminists came up in support of all those who shared their experiences under the #MeToo Movement whose essence was to believe the victim when they tell their traumas and stories. But the same Bollywood disregarded the essence of the movement and stood by the side of Anurag Kashyap when actor Payal Ghosh accused the renowned filmmaker of sexually harassing her in 2013.
Journalist Priya Ramani when accusing Former Union Minister MJ Akbar of sexual harassment knew the path wouldn’t be easy as charging politicians in a country like India and holding them accountable for their actions has always been a tough job. But she believed in herself and the cause that she was fighting for on the behalf of all those women who experience workplace harassment but bow down in front of the institutional hierarchy.
After getting acquitted in a defamation lawsuit filed by Akbar, Ramani walked out of court with a shine in her eyes knowing that her win is a milestone in the Indian #MeToo movement. The court observed that a woman has a right to put forward her grievances even after decades and society must understand the impact sexual abuse leaves on its victims. The verdict by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey bashing the preconceived notion, rightfully admitted that even a man of social status can be a sexual harasser.
Ramani’s story paves way for all the women who have faced similar ordeals. The immense courage she showed while taking a stand against Akbar, then Minister of State for External Affairs will continue to empower women to expose the perpetrator, be them of any social status or power.
Priya Ramani’s victory feels personal to every woman who continues to live with similar survivor stories and is building anguish and courage to combat their experiences of sexual misconduct and oppression.