‘MeToo’ movement initiated conversation, gave courage, invited policies: AKLF panelists

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Kolkata, Jan 20 (IANS) The conversation started by the ‘MeToo’ movement is transformative and people should trust when people share their ‘wounds’, according to a panel discussion at the 10th edition of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF).

“Every aspect of the MeToo movement is important. But as a mother of two grown-up girls, I am really positive that there is a whole new conversation and people are redesigning the space where men and women interact,” writer Anuja Chauhan said.

She feels women are crossing the line by asking for equal pay and doing things that they had never done before.

“It is not just a topic to be discussed in literature festivals but a very important conversation that will trickle down right across the society,” Chauhan said.

Stressing the importance of believing in a person’s ordeal, columnist Shobhaa De said: “First thing about MeToo is to start listening. Listen to her if she has been wounded. Even if it happened 20 years ago, a wound is a wound. Learn to trust women or men who had been abused.

“It is not about blaming anybody, it is about examining our cultural identity and society that has led to this kind of a divide,” she said.

De feels that every human being has a sense of personal space and if any unwarranted advance is made, they instinctively know it. Fear needs to be addressed, as many think that they would not be believed.

“I think there are things that are negative like accusations without any backup or without any instances. But overall, the movement is a very positive one and it had made us rethink our overall approach,” writer Ruchir Joshi said.

Journalist Shutapa Paul was apprehensive of speaking at length on the issue as her case is sub judice. She had shared her ordeal while working with former editor-turned-Minister of State for External Affairs, M.J. Akbar on Twitter in 2018.

“It gave us a lot of courage to take on someone as powerful as a Union Minister of the country. That sort of courage, I think is a positive outcome of MeToo,” Paul said.

“There are grey areas when we talk about crossing personal lines but in big corporates or office culture, there is no grey area. Matters like a senior preying on a subordinate can be dealt with,” she said.

“I am happy that because of the movement, a number of organisations have set up committees to deal with such behaviour. You cannot just say ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’, because after studying she will go for work. She needs to feel safe over there,” Paul said.

Stressing on the universality of the subject, actor Jayant Kripalani said: “I was first molested in school by a man, in the name of disciplining me. It happens at every age to every sex – male, female or transgender.”

De spoke about the accusation against Bollywood filmmaker Raj Kumar Hirani where women are coming up to say that he is a very well-behaved man. She said one should not think that a person who appears gentle cannot be a molester.

“Generalisation in the conversation of MeToo is trivialising it,” she said.

–IANS

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