#MeToo : The Story and The Scorn, Rise and Shine My Lady!

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It's time that women not just stand up to their rights but believe strongly in their values, opinions and stand tall to the courage of conviction. Not only can they express freely but also embed and inculcate the same in the generations to come. Here's the story and the scorn, Rise and shine my lady!

We have seen a  slew of ripples around the #Metoo campaign that is being galvanized and electrified into an oscillated movement with many women coming up and telling the world about their ordeals.

The story started in 2017 with Harvey Weinstein scandal, where dozens of women actors spoke of their ordeals of sexual harassment or assault such as Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie, and Gwyneth Paltrow. They openly narrated their stories against this Hollywood Producer. Some actors such as Asia Argento came out with the #Metoo campaign for Women, to stand up and make a candid social media expression.

In a few weeks, the campaign fluttered and spanned across so quickly that the Times and New Yorker, won a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on Weinstein.

Fast forward 2018 and the story has been dynamized on social media where a woman levelled charges of sexual harassment against the comedian Utsav Chakraborty on October 4th.

Since then the outpours strong, powerful and yet loud. All thanks to social and Online media. The world stands together against such predators.

An out-turn and upshots followed; such as stepping down of HT Bureau Chief & Political Editor Prashant Jha. Industry players such as AIB has lost many prominent clients and may dissolve soon since its members were hit by charges of alleged misconduct and sexual harassment.

Many senior Journalists, Directors, and Members of the entertainment industry faced the ire on account their ghastly and gruesome behaviours against women who went through deeply personal and professional traumas.

By October 6th, a major Production House in the Entertainment Industry had been dissolved on account of allegations by a women crew member that Vikas Behl had harassed her in a hotel room on the early hours of 2015 and pretended to pass out drunk on her bed only to awaken soon after and masturbate on her.

The lady went to complain to Anurag Kashyap but as per her nothing was done.. and Vikas Behl kept harassing her and eventually she had to leave the firm.

Phantom films, Anurag Kashyap told a media house that he failed the survivor, so the company is being dissolved.

Kashyap, Behl, Vikramaditya and Madhu Mantena dissolved the production house.

This is very ironical as I have the chance to meet Vikas Behl in person at a Women’s conference back in 2016 in Delhi and he appeared to be one of the politest people, I had ever met.  I am thoroughly surprised as to how deceptive can be looks and personas.

Tanushree Datta also accused the Film Actor Nana Patekar for lewd behavior on the sets of HornOkPlease. The lady narrated her experience ten years ago and how badly she was treated on the film’s sets.

I am not ashamed to admit, I was also a part of this and a victim of #Metoo . This happened when I worked for a prestigious MNC firm and we went out on tour to a hill station for a training.

My supposed boss then tried and applied to discuss his bedroom life with his wife with me and another female colleague. We found it very inappropriate and out of the context.

I quit the firm eventually and ensured that the gentleman gets a warning from the HR Department.

Women should stand up to the courage of their conviction and affirm their rights.

In another instance in 2000, my supervisor asked me to accompany him on a trip to Mumbai which I vehemently denied. I also remember him almost pushing it to the brink and blackmailing me for my promotion. I stood tall and steadfast.

As per Shawn Burn, a psychology Professor at California Polytechnic state university in a CNBC statement says,  “sometimes sexual harassment is used to intimidate, disempower and discourage women in traditionally male-dominated occupations.”

This definitely leads us to think, if this hype is around the #Metoo campaign or a basic caveat in the manner, men look at women, the age-old Gender bias qualms in this male-dominated culture still thrive in our socio-economic cultures.

In February this year, I happened to go to the Silicon Valley for a Women Entrepreneurs summit and I distinctly remember a women participant asking a “well-known technology veteran” in a large and a prestigious gathering as to why women had to fight so hard to fit in  as against  their male counterparts inspite of being so diligent and meticulous in their work profiles. What struck me that, it was not just India, but Silicon Valley too is struggling to recognize and credit women with what they deserve, and gender bias was not new to them. My opinion was purely based on my experience in the US.

Conclusively, Is it therefore about Men “protecting their occupational territory” and refusing to acknowledge women in a fair and square manner in specific cases. This is a point to ponder.

But for those who do not even know what exactly comprises sexual harassment.

Here is  a checklist :

a) Making sexually suggestive remarks

b) Offensive remarks or jokes

c) creating a hostile work environment to sexual favours

d) Intimidating, threatening, blackmailing for sexual favours

e) Persistently asking a person out

Women should know their rights and jurisdiction and here is a detailed summary ;

Under Indian Penal Code, 1860

1. IPC Section 294-  The women should be aware that if she is harassed whilst walking on the road in public space, it is considered as sexual harassment. The accused shall be punished with the imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine or both.

2. IPC Section 354(A)-  If a woman is tortured with Physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures according to this section the offender can be imprisoned for the tenure ranging from 1-3 years or fine or both.

3. IPC Section 354(D)- A stalker can face the imprisonment from 3-5 years or with fine.

4. IPC Section 354(C)- If someone watches, captures or shares an image of a woman engaging in a private act without her consent, the offense is punishable with 1-3 years of imprisonment and fine.

5. IPC Section 503- This section deals with Criminal Intimidation. If anyone threatens women to involve in a sexual act or related to person, property or reputation, the accused can be imprisonment up to two years, fine or both.

6. IPC Section 499- Defaming any women to such an extent that it lowers the moral or intellectual character of women. The accused will be imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Under Sexual harassment of women at workplace act,2013

1. If a senior colleague demands sexual favours in exchange of work benefits, promotions or salary hike, it amounts to sexual harassment.

2. As per this act, any workplace with more than 10 employees should have an internal complaints committee.

3. If a woman makes a complaint about any act of sexual harassment, the inquiry must be completed within 90 days under this act.

Under Information Technology Act, 2000

1. Section 67 of IT Act- Posting any obscene or defamatory material on a public online portal intending to harass and defame a woman is a crime under this section. The accused can face imprisonment for two years.

It's time that women should stand up to their rights and strongly believe in their values, opinions. only a few can stand tall to the courage of conviction. Not only can you express freely, but also embed and inculcate the same values in the generations to come.

Here’s the story and the scorn, so Rise and Shine my lady ……

Written by: Deepa Sayal


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