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Laws need to be reframed

With the #MeToo movement gaining momentum, more and more women are calling out their abusers. Students talk about what will come of this revolution

Rashika Sharma, M.A. English, Delhi University

Laws need to be reframed

The fact that Indian women — particularly from the film and journalism industries — are utilising this international campaign, is ample impetus to highlight sexual harassment at workplace. Though we have laws and government portals such as SHE BOX to register complaints, their inadequacy is revealed when more popular platforms are used to voice these issues. This is because of lack of awareness of government schemes and initiatives. Fortunately, the Minister of Women and Child Development has formed a committee of retired judges to take up the cases. The proceedings should begin soon as the victims have already suffered silently all these years. Second, it empowers more women to come forward knowing that they have a medium now along with other victims and supporters. Third, this revolution has the capacity to instill fear among patriarchs to remain within their limits, barring which their long-established image will be tarnished with a single tweet or an online post. This medium is apt for the urban middle class who have access to the Internet, but what about those who do not have such means? For this, women’s helpline can be made more efficient. Also, sexual harassment committees should be strengthened, and national and state women’s commissions must become more active. In the words of Vinta Nanda, “It is not women versus men, or victim versus accused; it is society versus patriarchy.”

Tarun Kadian, III, B.A(Honours ) Political Science, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Delhi University, Gurugram

Laws need to be reframed

Sexual harassment at the workplace has existed for years and has been accepted as a norm, with the top management silencing victims. But now, in the virtual world with the support of netizens, women have gathered the courage to speak out against the perpetrators. The goal is to create conducive conditions for everyone at work, and this can be achieved through the strengthening and implementation of existing laws such as the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplaces (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressel) Act, 2013 which mandates the constitution of ICCs and ensuring that a fair probe is carried without any further harassment of the victims. We, as a society, should create a supportive environment to empower women to speak up. The stigma attached with the culture of raising voices in this patriarchal world should be shed to empower women.

D.Tejaswi, I, M.A.English, IGNOU, Hyderabad

Laws need to be reframed

While #MeToo is gaining momentum, it becomes important to check the authenticity of those being accused. One drawback of the online media is that anyone can post anything anonymously, to avoid coming under the scanner. Several individuals could take advantage of this and defame people they may not like. Nevertheless, it takes a lot of guts for women who are speaking up for themselves and for this, they deserve appreciation.

Manish Kumar Pujari, I, Ph.D, JNU, New Delhi

Laws need to be reframed

#MeToo is a good platform for the oppressed, suppressed, and depressed voices to make themselves heard. However, this movement, much like other social media movements, has its limitations — it is a tool only for those who have Internet access and an account on social media. For supressed voices in remote villages, there is still a long way to go before their voices can be heard through such platforms.

Abhishek Mohan, Alumnus, Master of Communication Design, Royal Melbourne Institute of Design, Australia

Laws need to be reframed

It is the basic need of every individual to be able to pursue his/her aspirations in a safe and secure society. Unfortunately, the safety of our institutions is being questioned today due to the high prevalence of such malicious conduct. First, this situation can only be controlled by altering the behaviour of predators. Stringent laws on transparency of institutions and clearly-stated boundaries need to be legally enforced so that authorities in power cannot use their positions to bully or abuse victims. Second, such violations can scar anyone at a professional and emotional level. Hence, victims must be given the support system in the form of counselling services to be able to speak up. Such support systems must be able to provide a mechanism for victims to be able to hold their aggressors responsible without fear of punishment or negative consequences. This will help more victims to speak up.

Harikrishnan K.S, B.Tech, Civil Engineering, College of Engineering Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Laws need to be reframed

The movement indicates the absence of a competent authority to address such issues. With technology shrinking the world, the voices of the victims can be heard by a lot more people. This can be considered an improvement, as well as a matter of concern, as sometimes the platform is prone to misuse. To provide the justice deserved, the government needs to step up. An ad-hoc authority or tribunal, as in the case of Justice Varma Committee recommendations, which would provide satisfactory and quick redressal mechanism, is an option worth considering. Such an action, if successful in winning people’s confidence, will encourage victims to seek a more convenient path, rather than using informal sources in their quest for justice.

Deepak Kumar Beuria, Graduate, Bhubaneswar

Laws need to be reframed

The #MeToo movement should reach the lower section of our society, where sexual abuse and harassment is more common. The movement should also be made a part of educational institutions across India to reveal instances of abuse by so-called teachers, lecturers, professors, and so on. This movement should be led in such a way as to reduce the incidence of rape, abuse and harassment. It should be accessible to everyone — men, women and the transgender community. The process needs strict and transparent laws for it to be effective.

Danish Firdaus, UPSC aspirant, Delhi

Laws need to be reframed

Online revolutions can impart great change and speeden law enforcement. #MeToo has empowered so many women to come and speak about the pain they have felt. This will help reduce the percentage of defaulters. While many famous people have been named and shamed as harassers, there are perpetrators have gone scot-free. Though recent laws can help, the legal process is too slow, and gives ample time to perpetrators to silence their victims. Since every law can be used and misused, it is better to each accusation thoroughly.

H. Haripriyaa, II, B.Com(C.S), Bhaktavatsalam Memorial College for Women, Chennai

Laws need to be reframed

Over the past couple of years, social media has transcended from merely connecting people to becoming a tool to addresses issues and injustice meted out by society. This has become more common with the #MeToo movement. Women from different fields have shared stories of their abuses and are seeking justice. Eventually, it has gained momentum as the Ministry of Women and Child Development has come up with a committee to look into these issues. I hope through these means, women can call out their perpetrators as opposed to remaining silent victims. The right way forward is to take this up with the Supreme Court and bring out a rational verdict. Women can no longer be subjugated to obnoxious threats. We need to create a conducive and abuse-free environment for women.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 1:06:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/laws-need-to-be-reframed/article25271801.ece

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