OPINION
I saw MeToo in Sector 17, Chandigarh, & everyone missed it
- S Pal
I saw MeToo in Sector 17, Chandigarh, & everyone missed it



WHILE THE MeToo movement in India must be welcomed, the fact remains that it is a movement of the elite. 

It must not be tarnished because it is an elite phenomenon so far; instead it should be celebrated and encouraged so that it hopefully expands, penetrates, sustains and reveals layers of our society that we have brushed under the carpet for far too long.

Almost every woman who has so far come forward and written an account of the horrific experience she went through at the hands of one or the other predatory man, has done so in the English language.

Almost all women are from India's metro towns. So far, the women have been from the service industry. Most have been from the world of media or entertainment.

Almost all these women rose in their respective professions, or, with the passing years, gained enough voice and maturity that put them in a position where they could articulate their pain.

They had a language that they could deploy for this purpose. It is a privilege that a felicity in the English language has accorded them. In many vernaculars, the words for genitalia have been dirtied to such an extent that our men and women have little idea of how to refer to their own private body parts, and how to explain the actions of a lewd man who considers himself licensed to prey on vulnerable women.
----------
Certain comparisons are very difficult to draw, and none such are definitive, but the general perception is that women employees at workplaces in small towns and in smaller organisations are often more vulnerable.
----------
After days of such a stormy movement taking over our airwaves and claiming reams of coverage in the print media, the first account of a woman who suffered at the hands of her local MJ Akbar/Harvey Weinstein is yet to appear in Punjabi, or in Oriya, or Bhojpuri, or Haryanvi, or in the Dogri language.

Certain comparisons are very difficult to draw, and none such are definitive, but the general perception is that women employees at workplaces in small towns and in smaller organisations are often more vulnerable.

Also, their capacity to speak out remains painfully limited. Even years later, the town remains small, and any woman who tries to sail in the tailwinds of the MeToo movement knows that potential employers will label her as "difficult."

Now, think of girls working at departmental stores and guess the level of the owners’ inclination to stand up for them against a regular customer who has a glad eye and passes lewd comments or propositions every time he makes a purchase.

Those girls have still to hear of the MeToo movement. 

Our regional channels are still at a loss about how to translate MeToo. So far, it hasn't even become #मी.टू., forget about a translation.

We need to wonder why we are not hearing voices from inside the constricted newsrooms in Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Bathinda, Hisar, Ambala and many others. Has one not heard of horrific stories from inside these institutions over the years? Why are there no voices from the campuses of Punjab's 34 universities? Many of these universities have a misogynistic culture that would shame any academic worth her/his salt. I know that in Punjab University, Chandigarh, in one department, everyone knows of a predatory professor and women teachers even warn young girls as soon as they enrol for a doctoral course. 

Where are the voices from within the Punjab Civil Secretariat where officers with a glad eye boast about their conquests in the presence of their male subordinates on a regular basis? Why is #MeToo not inspiring a large number of women police officers and constables to speak up and tell the truth that hundreds or even thousands in the force and outside already know?
----------
Where are the voices from within the Punjab Civil Secretariat where officers with a glad eye boast about their conquests in the presence of their male subordinates on a regular basis?
----------
We must welcome #MeToo, we must embrace it, we need to speak up for women who speak up, we need to open up the space even further, we need to have our own MeToo movements in our respective professions, in our mother languages, in our smaller towns and cities.

It is not easy. It does not happen even when it does. I saw it. I saw it happening, and then not happening.

In Sector 17 of Chandigarh, hundreds of activists had gathered after an 8-year-old girl was raped, confined and murdered in Kathua. Several students from the Panjab University, Chandigarh and IISER, Mohali were part of the protest. Many a speaker were taking the floor, one by one, punctuated by some slogan shouting. Suddenly, a young girl who was given the floor, dumped aside the issue of the Kathua rape and murder and instead started telling a different story. "Meri friend ke saath huya hai, iss hafte bhee huya hai…next week phir hoga!” She was shrieking at the top of her voice. 

She named her friend, a girl student, she named the cousin of that girl who was molesting her on a daily basis, she named the relatives of the girl. She told the crowd that the boy was raping her every week, had raped her just days ago, and will do it again. "Kathua ke liye bol rahe ho, main bhee chilla rahi hun, is ka kasoor batao kya?” 

This was #MeToo happening in the chowk. Everyone was angry at what had happened in Kathua. That collective expression of rage had given her the strength to come out with the details of a repeat sexual offender, to name everyone involved. She was speaking in Hindi. She was crying bitterly. She was doing it in the town square. She spoke for about ten minutes, ten uninterrupted minutes. The activists were standing all around her.  
----------
In Sector 17, at a dharna, a young girl raised her hand and was given the floor. She told her story… She spoke about how the boy had raped her friend just days ago, and will do it again.
----------
You know what happened after that? The next speaker introduced herself as a story teller, took the floor and started narrating a story in English – "Once there was a king …”. It was a good story, and the narration invited audience participation. The crowd was in an interactive mode. Some in the crowd were seen wiping off their tears when the earlier girl was telling about her friend being molested every other day. Now that crowd was immersed in a feminist story about an imaginary king. Then other speakers took over. No one made even a passing reference to the MeToo revelation that had just happened right before their eyes, with the sole exception of an activist, Kanwaljit, of CPI(ML), who underlined how important such gatherings are since these give the strength to blow the lid off. After some regular sloganeering, the dharna ended just as it always does, with a song.  

Some of the activists later went to the Indian Coffee House in Sector 17. I, too, tagged along. There was no talk about that girl, and the heart-rending tale that she had told. In fact, no one ever talked about it later. Later, most of the activists I spoke to had forgotten the name of the girl. 

This was a MeToo movement missed in the chowk, in full view of a huge audience. 

It is time to pick up the thread again. It is time to say we have had enough. 

It is time to say a lot of other things: We will live the way we want. We will wear what we want. We will marry who we want. We will have sex with who we want, when we want. Yes, you heard that right – with who we want, when we want. Even inside the marriage, when we want. We will have husbands who will respect that.  
----------
Let there be no safe haven for sexual harassment. Not in Mumbai, not in Delhi. Also, not in Jalandhar, not in Bathinda, not in Meerut.
----------
It is time to end this constant judgment about our sexuality. You want to discuss whether we are sluts or virgins, do it inside soundproof rooms, because if we hear of it, we will come down crashing on you like a ton of bricks. 

We have our eyes and ears inside your houses – your wives and daughters and nieces. Many a times, we have even decent men who live in your houses. They could be your sons or nephews. This world is changing, so do not think that they will not grow up to be intelligent young people or that they will not judge you. They will.

So be careful when you say that some of these women are doing it for money, or that they must not be women of good character. Such loose comments will come to haunt you. 

We will flirt, and will still exercise our right to say no to sex. It is our right. It is the right of your sons and nephews. It is their right to try and woo me. It is their duty to learn how to take a no. It is a simple word. There should be no part of N or O that is difficult to understand. No means no. Simple. 

I am already seeing some men joking saying in a gathering that they will avoid any contact with a woman because tomorrow she may accuse them in some MeToo movement. For them, it could be a joke. But you know, it is good in one way. Such men should actually avoid the company of women. If you can joke about sexual assault survivors, if you can laugh about their pain, if you think some girl might start naming you as a sexual predator without any cause, then you are exactly the kind of man who women should avoid, should be wary of.
Thank you for your decision to stay away from women, then.

As for the rest of men, and all women, let there be no safe haven for sexual harassment. Not in Mumbai, not in Delhi. Also, not in Jalandhar, not in Bathinda, not in Meerut. 

It is not easy to sustain a MeToo movement. So when we have one, let us welcome it. Embrace it so that it becomes a MeToo in our vernacular. How about #ਮੈਂਵੀਬੋਲਾਂਗੀ? 

 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles: 

COP Vs. COP IN PUNJAB: Saiyan Bhaye Kotwal Ab Dar Kahe Ka

SURGICAL STRIKE DAY & WE THE PEOPLE The story of the gate is not the story of the house

Akali Dal's attempt to brand Navjot Sidhu as anti-national & ISI agent is ridiculous

UNHOLY HASTE To save the faith

Hua Panthik-Panthik Punjab - How do we reclaim real politics?

The Yuba City Attack on Manjit Singh GK & General Sambit Patra

Pakistan, Navjot Sidhu & the hug: Amarinder Singh 2018 is opposing Amarinder Singh 2004

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Paragraphs that went missing from PM’s Red Fort speech could have pre-empted Opposition attack

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

Mr SY Quraishi, can you please help to save this pet dog locked inside this sealed building?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

Punjab is Silent as India Wakes Up to Talk of Refugees

AAP-CONG ALLIANCE: ARREY BHAI, YEH KYA LIKH DALA?

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS PLANNING HONEYMOON? 

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

DEATH EMBRACING LOGIC: Drugs in Punjab

PANJAB'S EMERGENCY: FORMAL AND INFORMAL

THE KASHMIR GOVERNOR, THE TRIBUNE TRUST & ETHICS - How Journalism Fails Readers?

"Congress Sikhan Di Dushman Jamaat Hai?” —Akalis need to dump broken record, shift gears

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

SARKAR IN MANALI: From Shahkot to Mohali Court, Sara Alam Bigrra Jaye

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

SIKHS & FEMINISTS – We hailed Harjit Sajjan; they didn’t hail Gina Haspel

AFTER BEING RAPED, I WAS WOUNDED; MY HONOUR WAS NOT

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WE MISSED A REVOLUTION, BUT CAN IT STILL BE A GAME CHANGER?

A POLITICIAN SPEAKS – YOU SHOULD HEAR

ENCOUNTER, JULOOS & SELFIES

SOWING ANGER - NO QUICK FIX - Democracy is an Empty Ritual in Punjab

OUT-OF-BOX SOLUTION TO STOP FARMERS' SUICIDES

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

'THORRI BAHUTI EHNA NU SHARAM AUNI CHAHEEDI HAI'

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON SUICIDE-HIT BATS FOR AARHTIYAS

RANGROOT OFFERS A PEEK INTO PUNJAB'S TRAGEDY

WHAT MAKE NEWS IN INDIA, AND WHAT DOES NOT?

HITLER, MODI & GANDHI: ON THE SAME PAGE?

PUNJAB IS STILL VERY FAR FROM INDIA

APOLOGY – AKALIS BIG LOSER, CONG TOO 

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

SUPER EFFICIENCY ONBOARD CM’S CHOPPER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties: The Coordinated Silence of Amarinder Singh & Badals

PM MODI VINDICATES PUNJAB TODAY REPORTAGE

NEW DELHI V/S OTTAWA — WILL QUEBEC DEFEAT INDIA?        

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA - Trudeau came to Punjab, pushed Amarinder closer to BJP, then called him a liar

JASPAL ATWAL CONTROVERSY: Mr. Ujjal, will you throw some light on this too?   

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

J&K – RAM MADHAV LEAVES SPACE FOR MEHBOOBA’S POLITICS

SHEKHAR GUPTA'S HALF-BAKED TRUTHS 

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES - Karze Ne Layee Ikk Hor Kisan Di Jaan...

PNB Scam: Who is Nirav Choksi and what he is doing In the name of God?

Congress upset due to Priyanka’s cleavage on calendar 

RENUKA'S LAUGHTER: Thank you for your guffaws. We needed this non-violent weapon.

MR CLEAN to PAKKE DHEETH: How Punjab’s Congress hurt Brand Rahul Gandhi? 

MANJIT SINGH CALCUTTA– THE DISSENTER

PUNJAB FARMERS AND IPL CRICKETERS - Finally, they can stand like equals

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!

SUKHBIR IS RIGHT – On 97th anniversary  Panth Khatre Vich Hai. Where does this threat come from?

THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE

NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT 






Comment

your name*

email address*

comments*
You may use these HTML tags:<p> <u> <i> <b> <strong> <del> <code> <hr> <em> <ul> <li> <ol> <span> <div>

verification code*
 







MOST VISITED
YOU MAY LIKE

TOPIC CLOUD

TAGS CLOUD

ARCHIVE



Copyright © 2016-2017







NEWS LETTER