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Has ‘MeToo’ moment arrived in India?


By Florine Roche

Mangaluru, Oct 10: Former Miss India and actor Tanushree Dutta made breaking news recently with her allegations of sexual harassment against celebrated actor Nana Patekar, sending shockwaves in the Bollywood industry. The flurry of activity on the social media from Bollywood biggies and the general public following Tanushree’s bombshell, is a reflection of the prevailing mood in the society against sexual harassment. Bollywood is usually known for its infamous silence whenever controversies crop up involving artistes and on issues.

But this time around, a few stars and some young actresses have been very assertive in expressing their views about the prevailing sexual harassment in Bollywood but their number is small. Interestingly these young artistes have not shied away from expressing their opinion knowing full well that taking sides in Bollywood can always be counterproductive. They have been vocal in their support to Tanushree despite her allegations coming a decade late after the actual incident.


Nana Patekar and Tanushree Dutta

Even as the Tanushree bombshell was having its ripple effect, controversial actor Kangana Ranaut came out with another shocker accusing producer director Vikas Behl, who directed her in the movie ‘Queen’, of misbehaving with her. Of course Kangana’s accusation is viewed from a different viewpoint by many in Bollywood and outside. Considering that Vikas Behl is directing the next venture of Hrithik Roshan ‘Super 30’` which is slated for release in January 2019 along with Kangana’s ‘Manikarnika: the Queen of Jhansi’, many point out that personal animosity between the two is the real reason behind the recent accusations as Kangana wants to target Hrithik through Behl.

Since then many Bollywood artistes and celebrities have shared their ‘me too’ moments in the social media sending a tremor in the film industry which is known for treating its female artistes as mere sex objects than as professional actors. Only a few female artistes have mustered courage to come out openly about the sexual harassment they faced as they fear that they might be branded as ‘publicity hungry’ or they are doing it for money. This was how some artistes and even the general public reacted to Tanushree Dutta’s recent accusations against Nana Patekar.

Sexual predators everywhere

It is not just the Bollywood which is facing the effects of the ‘me too’ campaign in India which many describe as coming of age of Indian women asserting themselves. The social media is awash with allegations of sexual misconduct from high profile men from fields such as entertainment, film industry and the media. Take a look at this, eminent author and columnist Chethan Bhagath who was accused of sexual harassment was forced to publicly apologize to the woman and also to his wife. It may be remembered that Chethan Bhagat had supported Tanushree Dutta a few days back following her accusations, saying her accusations require a patient hearing. India’s stand-up Comedian Utsav Chakraborthy is accused of sending sexually explicit messages to women including minor girls. Female stand-up comedian, actor and writer Aditi Mittal was the first one from the industry to express solidarity with the woman who raised the bogey of sexual harassment allegations against Utsav.

That the MeToo moment of India has arrived and that too with a bang is evident from the fact that it has exposed India’s media industry which always takes the high moral ground on a number of issues. Many young and seasoned women journalists took to twitter to share their harrowing experiences of misconduct and sexual harassment from their male colleagues and bosses in the media industry.

Some of the high profile journalists representing big media houses as Editors were named and shamed publicly by these women who came out with their names and the incidents of sexual harassment and misbehavior involving them. Considering the general attitude against sexual harassment in India, it really requires amazing guts to come out with details of harassment against powerful people in the media who have an aura built around them. These women have to be appreciated for their valor and their expose has given a new impetus to the ‘MeToo’ movement in the country.

The main motto of the ‘MeToo’ campaign is to encourage women to recount their ordeal of harassment without fear or guilt. This open confrontation and shaming in the social media by many women journalists against their male bosses for harassment at some point of their professional career, is an indication that women in India no longer consider it as demeaning to speak about such atrocious incidents despite the general tendency to put the blame entirely on women.

Cynics may argue that this online movement of naming and shaming the sexual predators is not the best way to deal with the issue at least in India. According to some, this movement is a restricted one and may not have the repercussions witnessed in the US when sexual misconduct allegations against American movie mogul Harvey Weinstein were made public. Weinstein was forced to resign from his own company following the scandal and this incident gave the much needed fillip to the ‘MeToo movement’ across the globe. One can say that we cannot expect similar results in India. But at least a beginning has been made and in itself is a good omen.

The Beginning

Tracing the history of the movement, it was in 2006 American civil rights activist Tarana Burke who began to use the term ‘Me Too’ as part of her initiative to create awareness on all forms of sexual abuse faced both by men and women. It took another 11 years for it to become a mass movement in October 2017 when the ‘Me too hashtag’ campaign became viral. Following the article in New York Times detailing three decades of sexual harassment by American film producer Harvey Weinstein, the campaign gained momentum all over the world when some of the well-known names of Hollywood including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie shared their excruciating experiences of sexual harassment they faced from Weinstein.


Harvey Weinstein

American actress, singer and activist Alyssa Milano was the first one to make this ‘me too hashtag’ popular and encourage women to come forward and share their stories of sexual harassment. Many women came forward and the phrase went viral when popular celebrities like Uma Thurman, Ashley Judd and many others decided to talk about their personal experiences as well.

While some of the younger actors have started to speak out about sexual abuse in India’s largest film industry, Bollywood, many chose to maintain a stoic silence, which is on the expected lines. It was left for some women journalists to seize the momentum and the result is there for everyone to see. Many women from all walks of life are coming forward in the social media to name and shame their predators.

Long way to go

Now that the battle cry has been launched and it has a long way to go. At this crucial juncture it calls for some herculean efforts from Indian women to take the momentum forward to ensure that we put an end to this culture of misconduct and sexual harassment. The momentum should not remain elitist but has to reach out to women even in the remotest corners of the country to make it into a mass movement. Considering the prevailing mood, it seems women are determined to put an end to this culture of stoicism and not allow men go scot-free after committing such heinous crimes.

There will be questions asked - like why it took so long or what is the hidden agenda behind the accusations by Tanushree and others years after the incident and so forth. The blame will again be on women even when the perpetrator is a male. It must be noted that Tanushree did complain soon after the incident without success and was finally forced to leave the country, as per her own admission. And for the female journalists, there was not a forum earlier to air their views. Now that the MeToo campaign in the social media has provided a proper platform for women, I am sure sexual predators will exercise restraint in their behavior. 

 


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Comment on this article

  • JK, southkanara

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Good chance for all Women who once upon loved some one and could not marry him due to some reason..... Come on.... you can ditch any MEN NOW with your sharp weapon ME TOO.... Take revenge and apply lemon juice in all MEN who live peacefully WITH GOOD FAMILY AND CHILDRENS.... Men please go to some HIDDEN PLACES on this earth to cover your face ..... It is navarathri now and WOMEN get more power to make you FOOL infront of TV, NEWS CHANNELS and SOCIAL MEDIA.....

    DisAgree [1] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • JK, southkanara

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Good chance for all those Women and Celebrities to take revenge on anybody with this concept.... Really stupids and moving to wage war against Gentleman.... Funny .... after so many years they are complaing now shows how cunning their brain is .... With this they could even make fun of their school events where Boys used to touch them while playing kho kho,,... donka.... jibli..... sharing fresh Raw Mango ... OMG...

    DisAgree [2] Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Flavian, Mangluru/Kuwait

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Thank God there was no “Me too” moment in the past!
    Everything used move smoothly with mutual understanding and no controversies.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • nami, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Most of the allegations must be true. Aloknath,Jeetendra,Nana,Behl,kevin spacie are all accused. HolIywood has made a big cry against it. Annu Malik Was Accused Once. There Are Several Others too
    Several Business Men were not exceptions.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    The society, police, courts, media - all love to treat women as victims.

    But look at any workplace. Employ a woman, and she won't associate with her male colleagues. But she will happily build a super-rapport with her boss (male) within 24 hours of joining.

    The women I have come across, at least 9 out of 10, are ambitious. Nothing bad about being ambitious.

    But, to achieve greater results faster, the same women do not hesitate to offer some baits, to men IN POSITION.

    But after 10 or 20 years, the same women realise that they are virtually at square one, while the man they offered the bait is flying very high.

    So, why not bring him down to earth? The society, police, courts, media - all will love to help a woman treated badly by a monster male.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • RonRon, Udupi

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    its confirmed, Rafael aircraft is the strongest fighter .... bombarding commenced well before it manufacture. Mee tooooo to cover up the scam, but I dont think it will succeed in this mission.... its different story when Sridevi died(???) when Nirav matter was hot. Only wise people can understand this!!!!!!!!! :) . rest be busy with whatsap University good luck!!!!

    DisAgree [2] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Chandru, Landlinks

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Nice article Florine, the last para is valuable. I thought it's better to avoid the delay in coming up with issues.
    As you said, social media provides platform to express the views, now nobody can stop anybody in coming out with truth

    DisAgree [2] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • NN, NN

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    When I said I love you to girls in my hey days, they used to say "Me Too". Now it is becoming a scary word. Girls, going forward just reply I love you too instead, if you really love your partner.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • Cyril, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    "Me too" moment is good and the awareness like protection will be given to young new ones.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mahathma, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Blame games!!! superstitious ??? really sad to hear... CBI will open new branch for these caes to investigate

    DisAgree [3] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Arun, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Its very imporatnt to create a safe working environment to women where they feel secure to work and also to have system in place which addresses any harrasament at work place independently. What is happening in india right now is media trial where news anchors are doing the court duty and giving verdict. In long term it will be counter productive. Who has given them right to shame and ruin some ones life publicly merely on basis of allegations. Has court said guilty to any of thes offenders yet?

    DisAgree [3] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Thomas Cutinho, Dubai/Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    I remember one example when one poor intelligent girl who was working for a multinational company at Nariman Point, Mumbai and she left the job just completing her probation period and when I asked the reason, she informed that she was working as a secretary for the managing director [quite aged] of multinational company and when she asked the job confirmation letter he started behaving funny with her and she did not cared about it and one day while assigning some duties inside his cabin he slowly put his hands on her shoulder and immediately she give him a 'TIGHT SLIP' came out and submitted her resignation letter and she afraid to complain because he had power and money.

    It shows the selfish attitude of men and how they respect and treat the other females. If the same things happen to their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers or any female relatives what will be their reaction ? We can't just behave like an animals since we are human beings with a brain.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sanjay, Hebri

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    In Rape and molestation cases, the proving of innocence falls on the accused. So one can get into trouble just mere by a complaint by a women.
    One side SC advocates for equality, but allows gender bais laws.
    One cannot just accuse a man for a crime 2o years back, without solid proof. That too, she was well educated and not illliterate.
    Nana patekar is in huge trouble as he has to prove his innocence.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Eva, Kirem

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Here many commentators are ridiculing women and why not because lot of time consensual advances are happening. "you give me this and I will give you this" ok..... that is not the one 'me too' campaign. Taking advantages of a woman her being helpless and alone, opposite man is powerful etc. Even when we visit to a friends house family to family this kind of unpleasant things like deliberately touching happens. So men please support this 'me too' campaign because you are not aware how your mom, sister and daughter have experienced it

    DisAgree [7] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nancy, Belman

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    It all started after Franco episode

    DisAgree [3] Agree [17] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Bhandarkar, Mangaluru

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Y R U after Franco?

    DisAgree [2] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Langoolacharya, Belman / Washington,DC

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Silence is Golden...Speech is Silver...

    ...Tak...Takk...

    DisAgree [4] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rolf, Dubai

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Sobakka will say me three

    DisAgree [4] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • francis lobo, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Do we have #Me Too# hashtag for the young women who suffered under errant eyes of the supervisors and owners of fish cleaning & packaging industry, Beedi industry, tile factories, garment stitching industry, Coffe estate ,cashew nut factories or many such industries where women were working ,My mother was one of them who suffered a similar fate in the 60's in Mangalore. There were no one to support them in those days and today also. The easiest way was to force them to leave the job or work quietly and suffers. How many of us support the people who are flower seller, beedi makers ,cashew nut cleaners who suffer constantly under their male colleagues ,supervisors or owners. The #Me Too# today is restricted to the fashion or movie world .When we can expect it to percolate to the lower strata of people who are daily sufferers for the sake of their family. We need a #Me Too# movement for them as well

    DisAgree [1] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • EULALIA DSOUZA, MANGALURU

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Well written by Florine. Being a lady I must tell people that most of the time it is give and take. It takes two hands to clap. It takes two people to arrive at a decision of what ever they take about this sensitive issue.
    Women would surely agree to do what men ask them to do for a favour in life, like a big role in cinemas, a promotion at any job, an increment, political higher position and so on. Men on other hand would not hesitate to take chances when given a chance - why should they not? After all an opportunity knocks at your door and you grab it all.
    Probably women are good at manipulating truth knowing well that law mostly favours to their side. They will take advantage of the situation and turn around when things don't go the way they think it should go.
    Men will be men, but women will need to be on their guard when they are around such men. IF we women are firm and careful no man can come close to you. So blame game comes when things do not go the way they want it to be.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • Langoolacharya, Belman / Washington,DC

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    When Indian supreme court decriminalized adultery ...we should expect more promiscuous behavior...

    While agreeing men in power look for a chance to exploit females who work for them...if women stand firm...they cannot succeed...

    This Me Too crowd...I doubt if they have credibility...real victims might most likely will quietly suffer the humiliation...

    ...Tak...Takk...

    DisAgree [4] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Alwyn, Canada

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Some of the allegations against men are false. Recent news in the US was falsely accusing the judge for political gain and some claim for access the money of a wealthy person and some to spoil the name of the famous and some of them are really raped or haarrased by men. It is very danger for men and women for future life. Most in America are not getting married just bcze of legal battles or power issues. God only can save us from negative thought and destroy people's life for power and money

    DisAgree [1] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Bhandarkar, Mangaluru

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    After this 'Me TOO' something...
    One prominent commentator from nearby Mumbai is missing... Have you noticed?
    Legal Notice...aa? Not sure aa??
    No ..No..No... I dunno...I Just noticed...
    I am not responsible for your guessing also....Ok?

    DisAgree [3] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • Langoolacharya, Belman / Washington,DC

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    He is auditing 'Me Too' list of Mumbai...Scanning if his name is there...

    ...Tak..Takk...

    DisAgree [3] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Eustace, Mumbai

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Bigger scene is, #metoo starts only if the man has become successful. What about the men who are less fortunate and in bad life situations? They never attempted anything and all are angels, right? Secondly, have the women taken the benefit from the men they accuse of taking advantage of them? They are more ethical and moral questions.

    Writer just fails to mention Director Madur Bhandarkar and Ms. Preeti Jain. She simply sold herself expecting a good acting role. When it did not happen, she tried to expose him. Then Preeti Jain also tried to kill him. That is also a sexual harassment issue. Why Bill Clinton was sexually entrapped by Monica Lewinsky? Tried to get a good job.

    From the time immemorial women used their "sexual card" to wrench benefits from stronger men. See any religious discourse, Mahabharatha, Quran, Torah or Bible. See the case of Esther in old testament and many other stories.

    In fact it is more to do with the exploitation of powerful men by weak and incompetent women. Incompetent women take advantage of men, then cry wolf once they are in a better position.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • RkR, Mangalore/ Dubai

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Gentlemen, when an individual suffer the same at a very young age would the society support her.
    Yes, but what and how people will treat her if she a Bachelorette..
    There are good guys who have no issues and seek alliance, here we have another set of strange people too.
    The fear facing the society, and difference between people- I’ll haunt her in her day to day activities.
    Me too# z a platform where you can speak up for what you’ve hid for long and find little peace of mind.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sampath, India

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    In simple sentences it is nothing but.."mooru bittavalu oorige doddavalu"..metoo campaign is filled by such people...

    DisAgree [6] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • RkR, Mangalore/ Dubai

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    I’ve excluded artist and opportunists in my say.

    DisAgree [3] Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Sampath, India

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Agreed... because we should also check the credentials of the issue raiser...here I am not with Tanushree...

    DisAgree [5] Agree [5] Report Abuse

  • HENRY MISQUITH, Bahrain

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Me too will definitely bring fear to men who has done terrible things in the past.

    DisAgree [7] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Bhandarkar, Mangaluru

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Misquithaa...

    To those who had Joy Rides too!

    You were supporting them...Weren't you??

    When did you leave for Bahrain??

    A lot of commentators here ,well almost all seem to have impeccable records..Don't they??

    After this We Two or Me Too something campaign many seem to have vanished though....

    DisAgree [4] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Af,,, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Utter nonsense why people are realizing after so many years it is a sexual harassment.it may leed to advantage taking and ruin someones image.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Bhandarkar, Mangaluru

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    1. This is not as simple as it sounds.

    2. Men can also start ' I too' or similar sort of campaign.Is it not?

    3. Further to point 2, is it men only who make advances?

    4. Yesterday while hearing a debate a supposed victim said' I allowed myself to be violated' by this man? What is the meaning of this??

    5. Further to point 4..Is it yield because there is no other go, reap fruits and yell after 10 or 20 years??

    6.. This campaign I am afraid will be used to settle scores and even blackmail in many a case.

    7. Tell you what .... forget Bollywood and other big arenaa
    In D.K district only so much is happening and has happened over the years... is it not??
    What spilling the beans ..Nonsense? Everybody walks with a straight face as if nothing has happened. Here both men and women are confident....

    8. When legal recourse is the only way out here for such things and knowing how the judicial system works here is it worthwhile to rake anything that happened decades ago??

    9.Think there is a 'design ' to this....

    10. Only if a victim fights tooth and nail, persistently with conviction , from the time of the event
    he or she has to be backed...
    Otherwise well....it will be just a case of locking after the screws have fallen of or as they say the 'Horse has bolted after mounting or something to that affect.

    11. finally whole India..same story..No other work....
    Somebody must be laughing all the way to the bank....

    DisAgree [6] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jd, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    To those who ask, why it took so long:
    Why we did not use Facebook ten years ago? Well the technology wasn't available.

    Why are complaints coming up now? Well there is awareness, protection and courage. In one word, it is possible now

    DisAgree [7] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sampath, India

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    So according to you all these were waiting for Facebook ..tweeter to be online to raise their voice?? You are wrong...these people are raising it now because they are marketing themself...you see soon few will sign for the movies..etc etc..

    DisAgree [8] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Eustace, Mumbai

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    @Jd, Mangalore In fact it is more to do with the exploitation of powerful men by weak and incompetent women. Incompetent women take advantage of men, once they reach a better position they cry wolf.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sampath, India

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Metoo campaign is good for those who want be on headlines...why they were silent for all these years ???
    They should have reported to concerned authorities at time itself...
    Also note that who ever is raising this now are not Angels...

    DisAgree [13] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shetty, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Mr Sampath,

    They dont want to be an "Angels". They just want to let out their fear, out of them that had taken their whole life apart.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jan, Udupi

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    #metoo #timesup is not about publicity
    1. For those who are asking for statue of limitation..- Kindly note our society is not as liberal as you portray it. Every time a victim speaks, she is shamed or termed publicity hungry. How do you feel, when you park your car in some open space and somebody makes a scratch on it? you can repaint it, but still you feel violated. Me too is not about consensual relationships. Its about the feeling of being violated by a man/woman. This abuse need not come from a famous man, the abuser may be someone you trust and many times when you complain, you are asked to shut your mouth because you are going to be judged and not the man/woman who commits the heinous crime.
    2. #metoo #timesup is not about a specific gender. If you have closely followed the movement, many men in USA came forward and accused the predators. Example: Kevin Spacey lost his career and admitted raping a young boy. There might be so many boys who might have faced abuse as child or still facing advances at work place. This movements gives an opportunity to come out and speak.
    3. The sexual advance made at a work place is not easy to bear. You cant continue to work at that place and report to that person. It affects the victims career and his/her life.
    4. There is always another side of story when it comes to allegations and movements. For example: The Dowry harassment law was enacted for a reason and then it was misused to harass men and in laws. But that doesn't mean that brides are not killed for dowry. There are still dowry deaths all around India.
    5. The movement will be successful only if brings a drastic change in work place environment and makes it safe for every gender. This requires a lot of improvement in work culture and ethic of specific industry.
    Though these celebs are publicity hungry as some readers point out, at the hindsight may be one genuinely hurt victim will find the courage to come out and speak.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

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