[ Ajay Tripathy ]
The Wikipedia has so far mentioned about 23 counties, although #MeToo has already gained momentum in India. Factors like internet access, freedom to express and different governments’ way of dealing with the cause of gender equality are affecting the campaign. In India too, MeToo is so far limited within the educated, that too to those who have the courage to speak up or have good support system in families.
I doubt whether we can ever take the movement to rural areas where majority people reside. Cases of gender discriminations and unreported sexual harassments are much more in rural areas.
Putting this movement under school curriculums, ASHA training, adolescent education and school health programs might be useful. Governments may earmark funds and conduct mass mobilizations to effectively harness the benefit of MeToo. Let’s strike while the iron is hot.
It’s not about celebrating the resignation of a minister or few isolations after they were being called out on social media, as whatever we have seen so far is mostly limited to very few sectors. Maybe the creative people started it or showed the way, but more conducive environment is required to speak up; especially for those who are not highly educated or elite. We should look for solutions beyond social media and mobile-app.
Even though one chooses to identify or relate MeToo with the workplace-behaviour then also we have a huge informal sector. We hardly know what kind of harassments they undergo, as the moment they open their mouths, the victims are likely to lose their jobs even though most of them are under the daily wage earner category.
We also don’t know why the victims of NGO sector, not-for-profit organizations, are silent so far. Researchers, scholars and interns beyond the media world have not yet reported to the extent of others. Voices of the victims in medical colleges, hospitals, tourism industry, aviation sector, universities, hotel industry, clubs, drama and dance groups, mining and other labour-intensive sectors are almost not heard.
Last, but not the least; it’s the public sector or government establishments those are the biggest under-reporter of MeToo, and that’s why the government must not miss this opportunity to help create an enabling environment for the victims to speak even if they are group-C and group-D staff members.
MeToo in India should be truly inclusive.
A clear pattern has emerged so far, as most of the victims suffered when they were young, interns or at the beginning of their careers. Hopefully, by using the MeToo data, some credible statistics shall be available soon on the estimated number of such incidences in different departments, sectors and geographical regions. I am sure these estimates would be unique and very useful in achieving sustainable development goals (SDG); especially the 5th SDG that is for gender equality.
The government might initiate some measures due to the effects of MeToo. It would be good if the female candidates applying for fulltime or part-time jobs are exempted from reference checks so the former employers, supervisors and guides cannot play any role. Such change in HR-rule would encourage the victims to speak up, besides help prevent harassment of volunteers, students, researchers, interns, young professionals, field workers and several women, as the shameless male-dominated work culture is busy destroying our values, morality and ethics.
(The author is a Public Health expert. Email: [email protected])
[ Ajay Tripathy ]