An Indian activist holds a placard during a protest against a rape, which has now turned political. Photo: AFP / Sajjad Hussain
An Indian activist holds a placard during a protest against a rape, which has now turned political. Photo: AFP / Sajjad Hussain

For the past couple of weeks, the #MeToo movement has been in the headlines of Indian media. Some big names who have been accused of sexual harassment against women in the professional environment, from Bollywood to the media, have featured.

Even political personalities haven’t been spared, and in at least one prominent case, a former minister of state was pressured into resigning. Many feminists expressed happiness over his resignation and credited the “successful” #MeToo movement in India. The question is how his resignation contributes to the success of the movement.

What is disturbing me is the presence of an ideological bias in this movement. Many feminists who openly back the movement applaud the downfall of some men accused of sexual harassment but remain silent about others.

The problem is not with #MeToo itself but with the opportunists who have hijacked the movement only to gain publicity. The most appalling thing is that as soon as any names are added to the list of those accused of sexual harassment, so-called feminists start to demonize them. They have forgotten that there is a difference between allegation and truth.

Just because a woman levels a charge against any man, that doesn’t mean that the man is in fact a sexual predator. There is a rule of law to decide who is right and wrong. But it seems that some feminists are not ready to follow the normal procedures. Everyone has the right to defend himself and it is up to the court to decide.

Tavleen Singh, a notable columnist for the Indian Express – a leading English-language daily – has correctly highlighted that the movement is all about “me,” not about others. She goes on to underscore the sexual molestation and rape cases faced every day by ordinary Indian girls – some of them are even forced to work in brothels.

Shocking news surfaced a couple of months ago about how young girls, some merely children, were sexually exploited even in the government-run shelters. These cases are really horrifying. Not only that, rape cases have seen an alarming rise in the country over the past few years. Every day there are reports of molestation and rape of girls or women. The chilling fact is that even  little girls or old women are not spared by these monsters. However, these cases never get highlighted.

The #MeToo movement in India will only be victorious when all these stories are discussed just like the cases of big names, and there are concrete solutions to these appalling cases. Of course, there has been wide outrage on some rape cases but these have been selective; that’s why India continues to battle with molestation and rape cases despite having strict laws.

Currently, the #MeToo movement focuses only high-profile cases involving Bollywood, the media, and politics, and that also with a selective view. Those who are busy scripting the “successful” story of #MeToo in India should not to be in such a hurry, as it has a long way to go, and currently it is only about past allegations without much concrete evidence.

The #MeToo movement is yet to become the voice of those uncountable voiceless girls and women who too often face sexual intimidation. Until and unless this vulnerable section is addressed by #MeToo, it can’t be termed a success. To the contrary, in the present situation, it seems that the movement has been hijacked by some opportunists who don’t mind for blurring the lines between truth and accusation.

So the conclusion is that despite its glorifications, #MeToo currently fails to represent the objective of equality between men and women – the most important goal of human society.

The writer is an India-based commentator on politics, religion, culture and philosophy and tweets @sagarneelsinha.

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