A snowball that hemmed up all the big names is getting bigger and bitter. #MeToo a movement started against sexual harassment and sexual assault. The legacy of the movement can be traced back to 2006 when an American Social activist Tarana Burke began using this phrase to nomenclature all the assaults that a woman has to face in their daily lives. The movement began to highlight the trivialities that made women appear as isolated victim of patriarchal whims. However, lack of proper awareness and vigilance for the concern led to side-lining of the movement. With the passage of time and rising better redressal mechanism led to resurgence of the movement. In 2017, when Alyssa Milano took Twitter to speak about the ordeal she faced against Harvey Weinstein which later on came to be known as “The Weinstein effect” paved way for the hashtag #MeToo movement.
Historical inspection of the assaults faced by women can be traced out and we find that even legislations have had been quite vocal about it. Sexual harassment is not only about physical torture but it paves a sense of psychological trauma and mental bombshell that reduce women to objects, cold victims of contextual and evolutionary societal constrictions where such cases are hushed up and crippled as if everything is normal.
The movement has led many Indian women to come and speak up for the deliberated acts of men that actually ruptured their own sentiments. #MeToo, Naming and Shaming and due process dealing the same must be highlighted for it’s the need of the hour to come and speak for the rights that have had been curtailed with all malicious intentions.
#MeToo needs to happen because we need to respect the decency that is curtailed at the hands of male for no reason. Sexual harassment, inside and outside workplaces, is the oldest crime in the book. World over, and in India, we have too many historical evidences of public stripping, buying and selling, stalking, sex without consent with women of all ages, stations in life, much worse with caste and poverty. Then and now. And against children, minors, and men in vulnerable situations. Despite this, it was only in 2013 that the Anti- Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act was passed. This, a whopping 16 years after the Vishakha Guidelines from the Supreme Court. No political will in the matter of crimes against women (mostly women) even to frame a law till 2013! Despite the novelty of the law, it applies only to women, makes little statement about the training of the Internal Complaints Committees, the process of conducting inquiry, and worst of all, has no bearing 90% of the working women who work in the informal sector as farmers, domestic labourers, informal retail and services, sanitation and health workers, etc. Of course, the law itself has not been enforced with the majority of institutions lacking of the ICC, particularly the government departments and the courts themselves!
For the laws that did exist already, they are still non-comprehensive, outdated and with more holes than cheese. As far as due process goes, there is police resistance to FIRs and if it indeed comes to trial, can take years.