The #MeToo campaign has gained momentum on social media in India and elsewhere.  This movement has been widespread in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan. Other trending hashtags related to this topic is the #womenwhoroar, and in France, #balancetonporc or “rat on your dirty old man”. There have been mixed reactions toward the campaign. Before jumping to a judgment or a conclusion, we must try to understand what this campaign is all about.

The MeToo campaign is an attempt to bring into the light the magnitude of harassment, especially sexual, faced by people at various stages of their lives in various situations and various places. It has become a collective cry of all those who have gone through unwelcoming incidents like groping, uncomfortable brushing, or even rape. The two words have now become an expression that is bringing everyone together in a worldwide campaign to fight against all such incidents by bringing to light its magnitude and thus reinforcing the gravity of the issue.

The movement started when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a note that reads, “Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”  Just after twenty four hours of the first hashtag, there were five hundred thousand tweets and twelve million Facebook posts shared with the phrase. Women, men, transgenders, have all shared posts with the same hashtag. Today, anyone who goes through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, can see different statuses and stories reading, ‘Me Too’. The gargantuan number of people who have faced sexual harassment is truly a call for action.

We have talked a lot about sexual harassment faced by women but nothing much has changed. Women are still eve teased, groped, molested and raped. Marital rape is still not a crime. Punishments for offenses against women is unsatisfactory at best.  Incidents that are being reported do not cover everything that happens. What catches the attention of mainstream media is only a drop in the ocean. This has now become evident from the number of MeToo hashtags. This trend is making it clear that each and every moment, a woman is being molested, either verbally or physically. While larger number of women have spoken up, it is to be noted that men have also taken it to social media to share incidents of harassment.  According to the Telegraph, 300,000 men have joined the campaign. Many from the transgender community have also joined. This has been limited only to the popular transgender persons and not a majority. But, this does not hide the fact that transgender people have been, for long, sexually, physically and mentally tortured.

Though the campaign has gain high momentum, there have been some negative comments too. Twitter and Facebook saw some comments against the same. Some misogynists have termed it as an ‘attempt to seek attention’. Some have even questioned individual women by asking why anyone would even want to touch them, by linking it to their physical appearance. Some even ask what is just a bunch of women publicly telling that they have been harassed going to do. This shows the mentality of a fraction of our society.

We need to recognize that this campaign is important because it has become a unified voice. Many are scared to speak about their experiences. But now, they have a platform to speak and millions of others to support them. There is no single panacea. However, change can be brought about through small steps. The #MeToo campaign is one such important step because it has now made us all aware that sexual harassment happens everywhere, every time, and that we get to know about only a fraction of those. It has also proved the power of social media. Awareness is the stepping stone to rectifying any issue. The #MeToo campaign has succeeded in bringing to light the magnitude and gravity of the menace called sexual harassment.

-Contributed by Sanjana Krishnan

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