BENGALURU: It’s been a year since the #MeToo movement unraveled in the country and women across age groups took to social media to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment and exploitation.
On the second day of Raintree Women’s Cultural Festival 2019 on Sunday, artistes from music, film and theatre backgrounds called for a need to strengthen laws against sexual harassment, during a session, ‘We, the Women’.
Victim shaming, isolation, disturbed relationships and emotional and psychological breakdown are the repercussions for breaking the silence. Chinmaya Sripada, a playback singer, said, “Denial is the very first response for breaking the silence. However, one shouldn’t lose heart on not being believed.”
Angela Mondal, who complained against a renowned Kolkata-based artistic director, said that though the person is behind bars, justice is still denied. “What is justice? I was doing what I could do of reporting the complaint and action was taken. But is that it? The idea of justice is also ultimately created by man,” she said.
While society works as a tough taskmaster, the tussle with law is equally scornful, said Sruthi Hariharan, a Sandalwood actor. “While I was in the witness box in the court, the judge primarily instructed, ‘speak only if you have been touched’.”
She stressed that the definition of sexual harassment prescribed in laws is ineffective. She said the legal provisions with regard to IPC 354 A, B, C, D are inefficient. “Judges and lawyers find it difficult as the biggest drawback is the lack of proof,” she said.
Chinmaya said that lack of proof is why rape cases are being closed as suicides. “Lack of evidence is the nature of this crime. Hence, rethinking of legal action is needed,” she said.
Bhanwaridevi and Kavita Srivatsa, who were instrumental in the introduction of laws against sexual harassment in workplace, popularly called as Vishakha guidelines, too were present at the discussion....