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#MeToo: Indian Women Join The Virtual War Against Sexual Abuse

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#MeToo: Indian Women Join The Virtual War Against Sexual Abuse

The Twitter trend exposes the extent of sexual abuse in India

The Internet is breaking, this time, for a much worthier cause than Kim Kardashian’s derrière. Tens of thousands of women around the world are updating their social media pages with the hashtag #MeToo.

And it’s not just a Twitter trend. It’s the voice of women against sexual abuse, which has evidently crossed borders and resonated as one. It all began when American actress Rose McGowan took to Twitter and accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her.

Following the allegations, Alyssa Milano, who starred in a film with McGowan, tweeted: If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.

Within hours, 30,000 women had replied to her and many more re-tweeted her. Several Indian women also started posting #MeToo on their Facebook and Twitter timelines, and many others continue to join in today.

This, we believe, is the most important viral movement that has taken place in a long time.

There’s no official count of how many Indians have been subject to eve teasing, molestation, assault or workplace harassment. Because they’ve never spoken up – until now. The number of #MeToo posts is overwhelming, exposing the sheer extent of sexual abuse in our nation.

More power to the women who found the courage to share their personal stories with the world and stand for the cause. We spoke to three of them, here’s what they had to say:

Men Need To Realise How We Feel

Disha Khurana, Mumbai-based food writer, stylist and recipe developer, doesn’t shy away from talking about her experience.

“It is not okay for men to letch. It is not okay to flash little kids outside school. And it is absolutely not okay to touch the boobs of a young girl travelling with her father in the men’s compartment,” she says.

“The worst is when grown-up, educated men constantly make a pass at you, even when they’re asked to back off!”

She believes that men need to read this, they “need to realise how we feel so they can set a good example for their kids and correct them at a young age.”

Remove the Stigma of Sharing

Namrata Kumar, assistant director at Communicate India PR, says #MeToo is just what we needed. “I remember always sharing stories of sexual harassment or misdemeanour with my girlfriends – there was always a sense of comfort knowing that you’re not alone.

“This hashtag is like a community that’s alive and expanding in a very digital way – it is empowering! I feel like I can tell my story out loud and maybe stop this from happening to another girl.”

According to Namrata, this phenomenon will “make men see that their moms, sisters, aunts and best friends have all experienced what they might be inflicting on other women. Maybe they will finally take notice and care about how it scars and alters us for life.”

She says, “The revolution here begins with opening up first. Remove the stigma around sharing.”

A Nationwide Movement

Debasmita Ghosh, VP corporate sales at a media company in Bangalore, believes this could be the beginning of a nationwide movement. “#MeToo is solidarity amongst all the women who have faced sexual harassment.

“This is really an eye-opener for me as I see the sheer number of reposts from friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Nine out of ten women have been touched inappropriately, harassed or molested in a public space or privately. That says something about the society we live in.”

There’s definitely strength in numbers, and as more and more women come forward and say #MeToo, we only hope the lawmakers take notice and enforce stricter laws against abusers.

Do you think #MeToo could bring about real change? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar

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