Most of us have been following the #MeToo stories on Twitter for the past one week. New stories surfacing each day. It was difficult to grasp the magnitude of the malaise but we all know how deeply pervasive this culture of misogyny is. It’s everywhere. In the jokes about #MeToo, in the slang language we use, in the item songs we see. We have perpetuated this culture without even realizing it, writes Kritiga Iyer.

This movement is the breaking point where enough is enough. Women have been brave enough to come out and speak about their stories. Stories they have buried for years, stories that now have to answer questions about veracity. A lot of people are sceptical about the stories being true at all. Most men and a lot of women seem to think it’s all a part of seeking publicity or carrying out personal vendettas. While I do not deny that few stories may be fabricated or maybe the truth is being stretched too far, a majority of the stories have the ring of truth to them.

There isn’t any woman who can say she has never been harassed in her entire life. It’s just not possible. Not in India, not in any country in the entire world.

There isn’t any woman who can say she has never been harassed in her entire life. It’s just not possible. Not in India, not in any country in the entire world. Today, the people accused are facing consequences, companies are suddenly waking up and initiating enquiries into each accusation. Most of the accused seem to be known offenders, whom multiple, unconnected women have accused. The complicity of the people who knew about offenders but chose to keep quiet is the most tell-tale sign of patriarchy at its worst. Society has taught us to cover up for men by saying of “men will be men, he didn’t mean it, he was drunk” etc. It’s a very convenient way to push any harassment under the carpet and ignore the repercussions that arise from them. And when the victim raises her voice, she is shamed into blaming herself for wearing short clothes, going out with men, drinking or maybe just being a woman.

What we should be learning from this is to make our girls brave enough to speak up for the truth.

What we should be learning from this is to make our girls brave enough to speak up for the truth. We need to raise our voices against any harassment in any form right there and then. Women are taught to keep quiet. To put up with it. To not get involved in police ka chakkar and court cases. This needs to change. And with this, the way government agencies deal with these issues also needs to change. Gender sensitization is the need of the hour. The society as a whole needs to rethink and realign how the system works.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 has ensured that all companies have internal complaints committees in place for dealing with workplace harassment. Ensuring that this committee can take decisions in an unbiased and fair way should be the benchmark for the human resources department. A safe work environment is the right of every employee – male or female. When someone is facing harassment, instead of looking the other way, work colleagues must learn to support the victim. Motivate them to complain or speak out. A lot of times, women are afraid of the consequences because that’s how they have been raised. A timely support is all that may be needed to save someone from the trauma of harassment. Be that support. Be the change.

Kirtiga Iyer is a working mother, trying to balance work, home and her passion for art in any form. A writer, dancer & a mix media artist by passion, a working professional for sustenance. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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