American Activist Tarana Burke used the term “Me Too” in 2007 to raise awareness on sexual violence and abuses and stand with those vulnerable women are facing it in every walk of their life. A decade later, its impact was seen on social media when people come forward and speak against the harassment and exposed the culprit.
It gradually became the global movement and brought many prominent persons forward in media who were perpetrators. #MeToo Movement was transformed into different languages around the world. And its impact was visible from Hollywood to Bollywood, however Nepalese film industry was least impacted. But, some forms of the movement were observed in the Theatre industry of Nepal.
The movement broke down the good mask of many prominent persons. Some were accountable for their deed but lack of support, accused of falsifying the stories, fear of losing a career, defame, and fear of reprisal from perpetrators, threats, and many other factors leads to failure of #MeToo Movement in the country.
The failure of this movement was a blow of patriarchal dogma to all those who were trying to raise their voice against the culprit. There was no option left else than bearing all the activities of the perpetrators, otherwise, you would be blacklisted and they would defame you from the industry.
The shocking death incident of Indian actor Sushant Singh Rajput sparked nepotism which is prevalent in the Indian film industry. While many actors and actresses were openly talking about Movie mafias in Bollywood, Here in Nepal Samragyee R.L. Shah speak forward and shared her harassment stories. She shared that she was misbehaved in numerous instances and has been the victim of sexual abuse and harassment in the industry since the inception.
She shared that she has experienced a close and inappropriate touch from the filmmakers during filming and afterward. She has been suffering and crying alone. Unlike, Samragyee many other women in the industry have become the victim of sexual harassment and abuses.
Physical or sexual harassment is pervasive in the Nepalese film industry especially to those who are in the initial days of a film career. Many people have the idea that this sort of activity exists but to save their career they keep on ignoring this violence which further built the intention of perpetrators even stronger.
When Samragyee spoke up about the violence people started poking her character, her intention, trolled her, even public pass misogynist comments, bullied in social media and many started defaming her instead of supporting her. People started blaming her instead. She stood strong and determined to fight the battle alone.
But, we are living in such a society surrounded by people with a patriarchal mindset and they think men are superior and have all the right to misbehave and treat women badly. Since childhood girls are taught that they hold the esteem of family and their action might lead the family to lose respect in society so they shouldn’t speak against any man (especially prominent and powerful) even if they are victims of any violence.
So to speak against harassment or any other abuses, one needs to have a lot of courage where sex is still a taboo in society. Even she may not get support from the family and while filing complaints also she might have to face multiple questions like why now, why not earlier, how can you say it was harassment, and so on. This has also stopped many violent stories to come forward in limelight.
Sexual harassment or abuse is any form of activity that discomfort the victim physically or mentally. All women in their life have once experienced any form of harassment knowingly or unknowingly and the perpetrators can be anyone in any form. We might have dealt with it when we were kids and some known person has touched inappropriately while offering our favorite chocolates, we might have experienced it when we were submitting our homework, while returning home from schools, traveling in a crowded public bus or a job interview.
We might have felt discomfort while they were oddly touching us but we couldn’t have spoken up because some were the faces of most trusted people in society, some might be relatives, some might have threatened us to live while some were powerful. And, most of us may be unaware of what sexual harassment is.
While most of us are unaware that we were harassed it encourages the perpetrators to continue such activities. When we realize that we were harassed no one stands in support of the victim. And, since sex is a taboo in our society, we don’t speak up openly about sexual activities which further creates difficulties for the victim to confront the misconducts of the perpetrators.
Unlike sexual harassment, domestic violence, rape, and acid burn cases are surging amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And the domination of women by men in a patriarchal society and the feeling of superiority by males has become the major reason behind the increase of violence.
The misconduct of a powerful person is covered with money. It has been easy to point on character and dress of women and suppress the voice of women by defaming and falsifying their stories. Here women don’t come to support other vulnerable women and don’t stand along with her. Instead, they start criticizing the victim. And with this how can we expect people to come forward with their stories.
The stories of sexual violence will be unheard to date until the superiority complex exists and the victim doesn’t get support to share hidden and silent harassment stories. Sexual violence cannot be eradicated in a single day it will gradually lessen if we aware people to raise their voices loudly if they face any such violence instead of tolerating it and crying in a locked room. The mentality of a person needs to be changed because of social status and money one holds doesn’t allow people to ruin the lives of girls by harassing. And social violence is the bad intention of perpetrators and has nothing to do with girls’ dress and character.
To control the social violence there needs to be strong laws to punish the culprit and the government needs to give special attention and concern on this issue. Besides that, a favorable environment should be developed so that women can fearlessly stand up against the violence they faced in any walk of life.
Sexual harassment and other violence is a crime and if we don’t speak up and remain silent we are promoting more violence. Today an unknown girl may be the victim of such violence, but someday that culprit might make us victim if we didn’t speak out loud against his misconduct.
So, let’s stand together against the fight of sexual violence and related violence. Let’s make our voice loud so that we can raise awareness in every nooks and corner across the country. So, that the culprit won’t set free, let’s our inner voice suppress the dignity of those perpetrators who cover their bad deed with a mask of kindness. Let’s support each other and make the country free of sexual and other violence so that a woman can set her dream high and fly to achieve it.
Binita is a Public Relations Executive at Prisma Advertising. She joined Prisma in January 2019 and has been actively working with Xiaomi Nepal. Before Joining Prisma, she worked at Suvadin Media and Research Center for 1.5 Years. She is also the student of Master in Economics at Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus. She can be contacted here.
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