Ever since a group of very brave women came forth with allegations against Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood media mogul, the entertainment world has been rocked with allegations. It followed more allegations against people like Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer and even Morgan Freeman.
In the case of Spacey, Netflix dropped him from their popular show “House of Cards”. Harvey Weinstein, as of October, faces five sex-crime charges and the charges carry a sentence of about ten years up to life imprisonment, according to a report published in Vanity Fair.
Many people have since then gathered strength about speaking up about their experiences of child abuse or inappropriate sexual advances.
Celebrities such as Nadia Jamil and Frieha Altaf have talked about child abuse. Actress, singer and model Meesha Shafi took to Twitter to talk about her experience of being sexually harassed by colleague Ali Zafar. The two were working together in an upcoming show and Meesha alleged that she was harassed by Ali Zafar. A storm began and pictures of Meesha and Ali flooded the social media and Ali Zafar soon released a statement (also on Twitter) denying Meesha’s allegations. Multiple women came forward since Meesha’s allegations who spoke of wrongdoing by Ali Zafar but have since then fallen silent. Allegations have also been leveled against some social media celebrities and Patari Music’s CEO Khalid Bajwa, Faisal Edhi and most recently, comedian Junaid Akram.
The wave began getting steam from Tanushree Dutta’s allegation against noted actor Nana Patenekar. As the movement gathered steam, sexual harassment allegations then came forth against actor Alok Nath, actor/director Sajid Khan. Adding to the list was Tamil poet Vairamuthu among many others such as BJP politician BJP Akbar and writer Chetan Bhagat.
It also caused many firings and dissolutions: Anurag Kashyap’s Phantom Films dissolved in the wake of allegations against Vikas Bahl (who directed Queen). Comedy troupe AIB asked Tanmay Bhatt and Gurusimran Khamba to step down from AIB. As a positive step, the Indian industry started conversations and panel discussions around the movement. This involves comprehensive discourses on what constitutes as harassment, how do we empower victims and how shaming victims by questions such as ‘what were you wearing’ etc are denounced.
The main purpose and aim of the movement:
… is to help end a culture of impunity that surrounds sexual harassment. Someone touching you inappropriately, someone in a position of power expecting sexual favors in return of benefits of any kind. Groping, ogling, passing comments which are lewd or filled with innuendos are all parts of the boundaries that must not be breached in a relationship or otherwise.
Another ideal scenario or outcome of the movement is where those who have been silent and have been living in trauma and shame for years do not fear speaking up because they are not alone. Therefore, it is a movement that is fueled almost entirely by solidarity and believing the victims.
The greatest service perhaps that the movement has given to present day society is that it has created an unspoken support for victims.
When one survivor speaks out against abuse, it gives hope and courage to other survivors to speak up and shame the perpetrators and not the survivors. Yes, there might be people who might try to sabotage this movement with their own agendas or politics but overwhelmingly, the movement is a positive step towards a society where people benefiting from the status quo cannot go on abusing their privileges and destroying lives of the people around them.