Vinta Nanda's case against actor Alok Nath suffered a setback when Dindoshi sessions court said that the writer may have delayed filing a complaint for “her own benefit." This statement and the fact that Alok Nath managed to get an anticipatory bail has yet again given ammunition to those who criticise the #MeToo movement. Yesterday we had more bad news too, according to the BBC, actress Ashley Judd’s sexual harassment case against the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has been dismissed by a court in California. With these events, 2019 has given us yet another reality check on how the battle against sexual harassment cannot be won so easily.
We reached out to some prominent voices who have been part of #MeToo India, to know how they think the court’s comments on Vinta Nanda's case and giving Nath anticipatory bail by doubting Nanda’s intent will affect the course of the movement in our country. Here is what they have to say:
"I have a lot of faith in Indian judiciary and our judges, but I still haven’t understood what was the need for these comments?"- Suparna Sharma
I sense a lack of sensitivity
Resident editor of The Asian Age, Suparna Sharma called these comments disheartening. “As usual the onus is again on the victim. The case before the court is that of Nanda. But so many women have since come forward and accused Alok Nath. So the court not taking all of that into cognizance bothers me a little bit. The court could have just stuck to commenting on why it is granting him anticipatory bail. But to make these comments about Nanda, I am not sure what the need for that was. I wonder why there was this need to comment on the case, when you haven’t actually finished it. Why are you giving an indication of which way the case may be going? I do not understand the intent of the judge in doing this.”
Sharma also added, “I do believe in Indian judiciary. Very often it surprises you and it takes us forward. It is the courts that have taken us forward when it comes to women’s rights, sexual harassment, etc. So I have a lot of faith in Indian judiciary and our judges, but I still haven’t understood what was the need for these comments? I sense a lack of sensitivity in them.”
What more do you want from women?
"Anytime something has made you uncomfortable, you don’t try to relive it every day. You try to erase it from your memory." - Janice Sequeira
Anchor/creator and media strategist Janice Sequeira said, “I want to ask all those people who are constantly criticising this movement that what more do you want from women? First, you said don’t encourage anonymous accounts because they may be using it for their own agenda. Vinta’s is however not an anonymous account. Then people said that if you are really serious about your story why aren’t you registering a police complaint or filing a court case. Vinta has done both. Clearly, the naysayers will just grab it anyway, to project that there are holes in this movement. We shouldn’t be concerned with what they are saying, because Vinta has done everything in her power from boldly naming and shaming her predator to filing a police complaint to jeopardising her relationships and friendships of two or three decades, going on every possible platform to create awareness about her story as well as the #MeToo movement. What more do people want women to do?”
She further added that the comment on how Nanda remembered the entire incident, but not the date and the month of the incident came from a position of ignorance. "These are things that most of us women are trying to erase from our memory. Anytime something has made you uncomfortable, you don’t try to relive it every day. You try to erase it from your memory. And this incident is more than twenty years old. How do you expect her to remember things like exact date, time, day of the week, location? These are the things which she has probably repressed for a very long time.”
Hopefully, truth will win in the long run
"Is it even surprising why so many keep quiet or don't speak up immediately?"- Mahima Kukreja
Writer and comedian Mahima Kukreja said this was why so many women keep quiet or do not speak up immediately. She said, "Character assassination, gaslighting, humiliation, economic losses and other choicest forms of societal punishments are reserved for women who dare speak out. Is it even surprising why so many keep quiet or don't speak up immediately? Vinta ji has taken on more than just a single man, her fight is a fight for many survivors like her. The bail order is dishearteningly predictable and my only hope is that in the long run, truth wins. Vinta Ji deserves it, the #MeToo movement and its survivors deserve it.
While journalist and writer Sandhya Menon chose not to specifically comment on the case, as it was sub-judice, she added, "Generally speaking, research has consistently shown that women tend to not remember *all* details of the crime when they're traumatized."