With passing time, people usually gravitate towards whatever is trending and making headlines and something that made ripples last year is now a thing of the past, or at least not as captivating as it was when it all started. The #MeToo movement that turned the tables and how in 2018, seems to have simmered down currently. There are fewer posts and discussions about the topic, and it seems as if the problem is now being pushed to the back of people’s minds as if it were a simple trend.
This cannot, however, remain just a trend; this movement must be pushed to grow, to last, and to gain greater ground so that it becomes a historically significant change in the mindsets and our culture as a whole. Else, people will continue to accept and condone acts of sexual abuse and rape and such heinous crimes will once again be seen in the light of normalcy. If this trend dies, people will stop sharing stories and will forget what impact their story can have. If this trend dies, we are setting ourselves back decades. And it’s not the time for setbacks — it’s a time for change.
Playback singer Chinmayi Sripada was one of the torchbearers of the movement that provided the much-required momentum to the issue of sexual harassment faced by women. “Men, who shame women, encourage men to rape, make rape jokes at audio launch events; ask for virginity tests for heroines, continue to lead the Union. How come no one questions that venom? I am speaking up so that we arrive at solutions and engaged conversations and not unilateral monologues,” she expressed while speaking at an International Women’s Day event recently.
But keeping this movement alive definitely comes with a price. Ever since Chinmayi spoke about her sexual harassment and exposed some of the prominent South Indian film personalities, she has been denied work and subjected to social media abuse. But the singer has taken it upon herself to not be silenced by any force as she cannot afford to let the hashtag die down... “There is a concerted attempt to silence survivors of sexual assault. My career is almost over. Only because I dared to speak up and found the courage to stick to my stand. In the Tamil film industry, during the past few months I have been banned from the South Indian Cine, Television Artistes and Dubbing Artistes Union for speaking up,” she added.
In another instance, attempts were made in order to delay justice of a heinous crime against an actress. The Kerala High Court observed that the defendants in the Pulsar Suni-Dileep-Malayalam actress abduction case were trying to delay the trial.
The court was considering a petition filed by Martin, the second accused, seeking withdrawal of its order for delaying the trial by six months. “Why should the accused want to delay the beginning of the trial,” the court asked. Stating that the order will not be withdrawn, the court also observed that “now the cat is out of the bag”.
The court rejected the plea when it was stated by the Counsel for the government that the accused are trying to delay the trial from the beginning. Actor Dileep, whom the police accused of orchestrating the rape and abduction, is currently out on bail.
It is crucial to end the culture of condoning and even promoting such behaviour. The need of the hour is to continue sharing stories and continue fighting those that think sexual assault is a part of our culture.
So refuse to stop talking about sexual abuse. Refuse to stop sharing people’s stories. Refuse to let these acts slip by, like generations before have done. Refuse to be a bystander in this movement, refuse to let setbacks push away the movement because this is not just a trend — it’s a time for change.