Over the last three days, social media has been inundated with #MeToo posts. The hashtag was started by Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano as a response to the shocking allegations against media mogul Harvey Weinstein. Disturbing accounts of how he propositioned women and put them in terribly uncomfortable circumstances has shaken the industry and added momentum to the ongoing debate on sexual harassment around the world.
Women and some men too have come out with painful stories of being at the receiving end of sexual harassment. While the movement has received incredible traction the world over, it has been subject to a fair amount of criticism as well, with naysayers being of the opinion that social media platforms capitalise on outrage and the numerous posts remain just that – online anger – with little tangible action.
Others say that the conversation is indicative of how victims end up doing all the work and that talking about the most humiliating day of your life should not be how change is stirred. They believe the narrative should focus more on the perpetrators and less on the victims.
So, for those who have had apprehensions about the movement, the Kolkata police came out with a statement that demonstrates the kind of proactive action we wish to see out of such a campaign.
In a post on Facebook, the Kolkata police have said that they were perturbed by the sheer number of posts on social media and urged women to “Be strong, we want you to be very, very angry about the leering, jeering, threats, verbal and physical abuses, we are asking you to be not afraid and to report to the police every time.
You could argue that the police, of all people, are hardly in the dark about incidences of such assault, but perhaps what is heartening to know is that they are keen on taking a preventive approach to this, not just curative.
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In the post, they said, “We also feel it important to talk to boys about the need to stop sexual harassment, and for this, we have recently launched a project, Dear Boys, in schools. We have visited ten schools of Kolkata, and the second part of Dear Boys will start mid-November.”
This is precisely what is needed. Guaranteed, this is something that should have been done a long time ago, but at least it is happening now. India needs to tackle this epidemic by sensitising children so that when they grow up, the country and world will be a safer place to live in!
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