After scores of women came out in public with their stories of sexual harassment at the workplace across sectors like entertainment, social work, media etc., men from over 10 NGOs staged a demonstration today in Connaught Place area of New Delhi to extend support to the movement. They raised slogans like “We are with MeToo” to spread the message that the movement does not target all men, but only the perpetrators of sexual harassment. The participating NGOs included Sangat, Azad Foundation, Cequin etc.
Feminist Kamla Bhasin, who also participated in the demonstrations, told SheThePeople.TV, “These men and boys are saying that they are also against violence. The #MeToo movement is not against men, but against patriarchy. We believe that barely 20%-30% men engage in sexual violence while the rest stay silent. Those who have come here are men and boys who work with NGOs and talk about gender sensitization regularly. Today, these boys have come to say that they are also against sexual harassment. That they also want more women to join the working force. So this is not just in support of women, but in support of a better society.”
A protester, Sagar Sachdeva, who works with Azad Foundation, spoke about why he joined the protest. He said, “We don’t think MeToo is about women against men. It is about everybody coming together against patriarchal forces. As more and more people come together, anyway the patriarchy loses.”
“Being a man, there have been many struggles in my life in terms of violent and hegemonic notions of masculinity. I am 25 years old and most of my adolescent life has gone into dealing with such struggles. Movements like these are opportunities to reflect for us on the kind of relations we have in our lives.”
“We believe that barely 20%-30% men engage in sexual violence while the rest stay silent. Those who have come here are men and boys who work with NGOs and talk about gender sensitization regularly. Today, these boys have come to say that they are also against sexual harassment,” – Kamla Bhasin
Patriarchy mandates that if women get molested, then they should be cooped up in houses. This also affects men in ways to over-explore and pressure their masculinity. The protesters also highlighted the fact that while women become victims of sexual harassment at workplace in huge numbers, there are men too who face similar experiences and it is necessary for them too to speak up.
NGO Cequin’s Project Officer Mohhamad Amin said, “MeToo is a worldwide campaign which has given a platform to all the women to talk about their experiences of sexual harassment. Also, I don’t feel that only high-profile women go through such experiences, but women working at the ground-level also suffer from it. Today, with such magnanimous response from Indian women, men have fear but the men we work with have come out in support of the campaign. This is a problem of the whole society, and not just a women’s issue.”
The society as a whole requires women and men both to come out in support of a larger good which is to promote non-violent relations between men and women. It is also important to raise awareness around zero tolerance towards sexual harassment at workplace and create a safer environment so that more women join the workforce fearlessly.
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