Amala Paul goes beyond #MeToo

Livid with sexual harassment by innuendo demeaning of women, the actress took on the predator in a police complaint.

The Indian film industry got its major #MeToo moment when the famous actress Amala Paul went to the Chennai police to lodge a complaint Wednesday on a shocking incident of sexual harassment at the workplace. Women owe it to Alyssa Milano for making the two words and the subsequent hash tag movement gain universal significance.

The two words now resonate with millions and millons of women who have come out openly on incidents of sexual harassment in their lives and the same could be happening out here in India too.

Amala Paul may have many things on her plate, like even a legal case for owning a luxury car registered in Pondicherry. In her career, she has suffered other incidents of harassment through online morphing of images, etc. But this moment in which she decided to take the bull by the horns and complain officially against an inappropriate advance made to her may is seen as heroic.

Anyone in her place may have brushed aside the intrusive presence of someone at her dance practice in a city studio and simply waved the man away. Amala took it up as a challenge to her and to womanhood itself that someone should make an indecent proposal to her about visiting a businessman in Malaysia after her show there.

Speaking after filing her complaint, a visibly flustered Amala Paul said, “When I had gone to do dance rehearsal, a man spoke to me unpleasantly, like he was conducting a trade. I was very shocked. I was very humiliated. That’s why I immediately came to complain to the police station. I’m going to Malaysia for an event. I went to dance practice for that event. While I was practising, he came inside. He spoke as though he was part of the event. He spoke to me like he was someone known at the event. He spoke to me personally when I was alone inside. That’s why I have complained. He has spoken like he was conducting a sexual trade, for a favour.”

She said she felt unsafe as an independent working woman to be put in a spot at a workplace location. She is to perform at an event titled ‘Dazzling Thamizhachi’ in Malaysia shortly, an event she agreed to participate in because it is a women’s empowerment show. She bravely declared, “I should not let it go. Because there are many independent working women like me. If there is no safety then I don’t know why we’re living.”

If a star as famous as the Mollywood heroine is propositioned like this, it shows how vulnerable women from the film industry can be. By posting the incident on social media, Amala Paul may simply have joined the #MeToo movement, but she decided to go further and come out in the open against sexual harassment by going to the police station.

Even as the perpetrator, a Chennai businessman, was arrested by the police on Amala’s complaint, there has been a groundswell of support for the quick action that the actress took. “We face this on a daily basis in the office. I myself feel that people consider their female colleagues as an option they have outside their home. Supporting the larger #metoo movement as we do, I would like to say the girls and boys in our society too are all coming up with different ideas against this problem. Kudos to Amala that she’s helping people think about this on a major scale, says Ritu Teotia, an IT company employee.

Engineer Swati Dhiman has a slightly different take on the issue. “I seriously don’t think if a girl is molested or raped it becomes her mistake. Though in our society there are people who make the victim feel bad and force them to end their life. But I also like the way girls are coming out and speaking out very boldly and their family is also supporting them. It’s high time that we have to think out of the box.”

Sharad Kumar has a word of caution about lumping all men together.”These acts are done by perverts who bring shame to men as a whole. We must teach children to respect woman from childhood and also be careful to not generalise men as it may have a negative effect”.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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