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Why It Is Important For Celebrities Like Ira Khan To Speak Up Against Harassment?

Ira Khan Instagram Post after Aamir Khan Divorce

In a recent video on Instagram, Aamir Khan’s daughter, Ira Khan revealed that she was sexually harassed at the age of 14. Talking about her sexual harassment, she said, “When I was 14, I was sexually harassed. That was slightly an odd situation as I didn’t know what that person was doing and if they knew what they were doing. It wasn’t happening every day. So it took me a year to be sure that they knew what they are doing and that is what they are doing.” Adding further, Khan said that as soon as she realised that she was sexually harassed, she wrote a mail to her parents who helped her walk out of the situation. “I wasn’t scared. I felt like this is not happening to me anymore and it’s over. And I moved on. It was not something that has scarred me for life and something that could make me feel bad,” she added.

Being a star kid, a social influencer, Ira Khan’s undeterred confrontation about being sexually harassed is significant in our fight against patriarchy. It shows that sexual harassment is a painful reality that ravages women in our society, no matter whether she is a celebrity with millions of followers or belongs to an underprivileged class of a small town. While underprivileged women are considered to be the most suppressed sections of the society, the privilege doesn’t act as armour for women in the fight against patriarchy either. The general conception of women as subordinate, sexual objects is the root cause of women oppression across the divisions of race, class and caste. And the solution lies in uprooting the patriarchal mindset and encouraging them to speak up against the injustice meted out to them.

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And this brings us to the second reason why Ira Khan’s revelation is significant in this move towards the change.  India is a country where celebrities, especially Bollywood actors, have a great influence on the citizens. The influence is to an extent that many people imbibe celebrities’ lifestyle, hairstyles, dress and even their style of walking and speaking. And if one of these celebrities opens up about being sexually harassed, one can imagine its impact on the followers. Hailing from the family of a superstar Amir Khan, Ira Khan’s revelation about her experience of sexual harassment encourages other women to shed their inhibitions and take a stand for themselves.

In our society, a woman assumes silence on harassment for the fear of being victim-blamed and shamed by society.

It is not easy for a woman celebrity to speak up about personal struggles either. They are viewed from the lens of their privilege and stardom and this undermines the fact that they too have a life like any other woman replete with sexism, problems and failures. In the case of sexual harassment, their experience is often criticised as a publicity stunt.

“I never spoke to anyone about anything because I assumed that my privilege meant I should handle my stuff on my own,” Khan wrote in the caption of the video. She further added that at some point she tried to convince herself that her problem was not bad enough to take seriously. Khan rightly wrote, “No matter how many things I have, how nice to me people are because of my dad…if I feel a certain way, a certain not nice way, how much can rationally explaining these things to myself do? Shouldn’t I instead get up and try and fix things?”

When a social influencer speaks up against harassment, defying all the impediments, fear and stereotypes, she sets up an example for other women to follow and overcome their inhibitions too.

She helps them understand that they are not alone in this struggle against the patriarchy that oppresses every other woman. That being harassed is not an end of life, career or reputation. The only way to deal with it is to speak up against it and not let the memories scar the personal growth and development. Women celebrities or influencers who open up about harassment and how they dealt with it can help in normalising the act of speaking up against oppression and injustice which is a taboo even today. They can also inspire a sense of solidarity among women based on shared experience and common struggle.

Although, the realities we inhabit are indeed different. It might not be possible for many women to take to social media platforms and openly talk about their experience with sexual harassment. In fact, many women might face harsh consequences if they speak up. But, remember, the first step to overcome injustices like harassment is to speak up no matter what and that courage will later translate into the will power to face every criticism. We often cite the struggles of successful people as an inspiration to achieve our aim, being aware that our goals and struggles are different. Similarly, Ira Khan and other powerful women celebrities inspire us to take the first step in the fight against sexual harassment.

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