#MeToo: Time to act against cases of Sexual Assault and Harassment

#MeToo: Time to act against cases of Sexual Assault and Harassment

#MeToo has been trending on the internet for days now. All of us know how it started. The purpose of #MeToo was to make people cognizant of the magnitude of the menace of sexual harassment and assault. The campaign seems to have done well to make people realize the magnanimity of the crime. I am saddened by the endless list of sexual assault and harassment cases reported by the people I know. I am more saddened by the fact that in most of these cases, the perpetrator is still at large. The culprits are still out there in our society, committing new crimes.

#MeToo campaign has achieved its first milestone. But this is just the beginning of a mammoth task. We always knew that this problem existed but we conveniently turned a blind eye. Now that our blindfold has been removed, we need to understand that our ignorance has made the situation worse. Understanding that sexual harassment is commonplace is not the end, we need to understand the root cause and act to address it. Most of the victims of sexual assault are females. This does not mean that the other gender is immune to this problem. Let’s start with Gender sensitization. This will help us empathize and respect the other gender.

We are united by our inhumane traits. Developed and developing countries have fared equally dismally when it comes to sexual harassment cases. It is a timeless global phenomenon. It impacts the poor and the rich, developed and the underdeveloped equally. We need to realize that any amount education or development has failed to edify the situation. Some of the most influential and educated people have participated in #MeToo and reported to have been sexually abused. In fact, the people who have easy access to digital platforms to endorse #MeToo are better off. The situation in the poor sections of the society, who have largely stayed away from this digital campaign is even more deplorable.

Let #MeToo campaign be the beginning of a revolution. Why is sexual exploitation so common? Since we fail to punish the perpetrators, it encourages them to repeat the offense. It also sets a bad precedent for the society and others might follow suit. Why do we fail to punish perpetrators? Majority of these crimes are not reported. Why so? There is a stigma attached with these incidents. Our society is hard-wired to stigmatize the victim and forgive the offender. The law of land is not strict enough. Cases of eve-teasing and verbal abuse are not tackled with agility and urgency, snowballing into bigger crimes. India has recently passed stricter laws against sexual harassment, but the implement still remains a concern. Are the crimes reported, acted upon satisfactorily? Of course not. This dissuaded others to report such crimes.

We need to create a safe and secure environment, where-
(i) Incidents of sexual harassment and abuse do not occur.
(ii) If they do occur, the victim should be able to approach the police conveniently. Society should put the blame where it is due.
(iii) All the cases reported, should be acted upon swiftly.

Amit

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