Monday, February 4, 2019

#MeToo now turns them bold

For years they acquiesced
#MeToo now turns them bold

By Amba Charan Vashishth

                The #MeToo movement is blazing a new trail in the country. Normally, a victim of a crime does —and should — knock the door of police to seek investigation and justice both to the accused and the victim after a court trial.  But, not now with #MeToo which inspires people to rush to the Facebook or Twitter or media to seek publicity and media trial as the aggrieved person. The beauty of the whole exercise is that what the accuser says is being taken as the gospel of truth and the person complained against is taken as guilty instantly without investigation and court trial. There is no onus on complainant to prove his/her allegations. The accused is being deprived of the right to prove his innocence. People now don't need to wait for months and years for investigation and verdict after trial in a court of law.  
        The trend started with a woman charging yester years’ popular hero Jitendra of having raped her at Shimla more than forty years back.
        #MeToo movement surfaced in Hollywood some months back. Bollywood jumped to follow it. The movement has startled our actors to crave their past to discover what wrong had been done to them. They are now spilling the beans of their having been subjected to rape, their modesty outraged and other kinds of sexual misdemeanour at the hands of their colleagues. More and more are now coming out with their disclosures.
        The world of journalism too has taken the cue. Demands are now being made to summarily remove the persons accused immediately from offices/posts they hold even before they are pronounced guilty of the crime by a court of law.
        The ‘secular, liberal intelligentsia’ had campaigned for extending full opportunity to prove their innocence to Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru, the Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab caught live in 26/11 attack and Yaqub Memon guilty of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. But they are not willing to extend this very right to the persons complained against. They are the people who had throughout been taking a stand that a person proven guilty and given punishment by a court of law should not be taken as guilty till the Supreme Court had handed out its final verdict.
        The first essential requirement to prove an accused guilty of rape and attempt to violate the modesty of a woman is the medical examination report of the complainant and the accused besides other evidence. Can the medical examination of the complainant and the accused after years and decades prove the allegation?
        A rape is a crime if it is alleged within a reasonable period of time. Keeping quiet for years and decades leads one to conclude that the victim has, for some reason or consideration, compromised. This automatically gives the impression of it having been an act with mutual consent. Going vocal now after keeping silent for years comes to smack of it being an afterthought.
        Indulging in sex before marriage, obviously, implies each others' consent even if under the promise of a marriage or other considerations. Giving it the colour of a rape later is a relation gone sour. A sex act with consent today cannot turn an act without consent months and years later. No law or society condones it.
        Contrast the present controversy with the brave example of a Tehelka woman reporter who firmly stood up against her boss instantly in a similar situation. The person accused is facing a criminal offence in a court of law in Goa. What considerations did weigh with these gentle women to seal their mouths for so long?  
        Actors are willing to go ‘bold’ in displaying nudity and to enact bedroom scenes in a film. Even while promoting their films they are very courageous before an audience. But they are making accusations against members of their own fraternity as if they had always been a ‘touch-me-not’. For them, it looks, doing a thing before a camera is an act of art for which they are paid. Performing the same role becomes violation of law if not before a camera and is without payment.
        The movement gives rise to pertinent questions: One, can an individual's honour and the post/office one holds be made a prisoner to somebody, high or low, hurling wild charges which have yet not passed through the acid test of truth?
        Two, where was their moral courage when they did not stand up to their sexual exploitation and why are they bold enough to spill the beans now after decades? They now have had the best of the two worlds: acquiesced into their sexual exploitation standing against which would have resulted in loss of money and career. Now that they have nothing to lose, they have turned 'bold' and verbose.
        More surprising is the Editors' Guild of India calling upon the veteran editor M. J. Akbar "to show grace and withdraw his defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani "who had come forward against the former editor". It even threatened that if he did not do so, "it would offer all support to the women". In other words it means that the Guild has condemned Akbar guilty without a free and fair trial in a court of law.