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Women and Social Media- #Metoo Movement

Women and Social Media- #Metoo Movement
Image Source - Google | Image by qz

Nowadays media is playing a more widely role as it is everywhere and everyone is attached to it through one or the other mode. If we talk about the current time social media now has more impact on people than from television or any offline source media. People, now are updated with every news whether it is political, economics, science, technology, business and many more through social media platforms. Everything has its good and bad so do social media. Many use social media to harass, torture, and stalk others.

To deal with all these governments across the globe has developed laws to ensure the safety of the people on these social media platforms. In India, social media law is regulated according to the Information Technology Act, 2000 to govern, control, and deal with the issues arising out of information and technology and social media laws. This is required because we all know that social media is more in misuse nowadays. In the year 2006, the #Metoo movement was started by the American activist Tarana Burke from the Bronx, New York to raise the voice for women who were facing discrimination, harassment, exploitation, etc. on social media.

Global Impact of Metoo Movement

The Metoo Movement was later carried forward by the American actor and activist, Alyssa Milano in 2007. The #metoo movement became a viral hashtag, popularized by her when other women started tweeting about the producer Harvey Weinstein who was accused of sexual harassment. She tweeted to his friend’s tweet “if you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”  She posted along with her friends, “if all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”

The next morning when she woke up there were 55,000 replies and the hashtag was trending no.1 and #Metoo became a global movement with 85 countries. It’s was posted 85 million times on Twitter and Facebook over the 45 days.  Later in the interview, she said, “that was it, I looked down at my daughter, sent the tweet, and went to sleep not knowing it was going to snowball.”

In India, this movement came into the picture after the statement (2018) delivered by the former beauty queen and actor Tanushree Dutta in which she made an allegation on the actor Nana Patekar that he harassed and misbehaved with her during the shooting for their 2008 film song ‘Horn Ok, please’ and on the dance choreographer, Ganesh Acharya, who forced her to watch pornography with him.  She also wrote to the National Commission for Women that the choreographer forced her every time to watch porn whenever she visited his office in Andheri, Mumbai. Later in a public interview, she said that “I had suffered psychologically and financially because of the turmoil I went through due to these people. I left the industry because I was scared and hurt over the atrocious treatment meted out to me on ‘Horn Ok, Please’ set.”   She also feather mentioned the incident happened to her back in 2008, that “they didn’t just break my car, they broke my spirit that day.”

Other Bollywood actors came in support of Tanushree Dutta and tweeted in support of her. Actors like Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Janice Sequeira, Varun Grover, and many more. The case was filed against Nana Patekar, by which Mumbai Police started the investigation. Later they failed to find out relevant evidence and proof against Nana Patekar and the case Tanushree Dutta v. Nana Patekar closed.

Impact of Social Media

Social media is one of the pervasive and ubiquitous forms of digital communication and it also severed as a primary source of education/information for many people across the globe. The context of the information, source of the information, and different types of social media information were all developed through the related opinion formation.

New research from Pew Research found that over 62% of people get their news from social media.  According to the latest survey it was found that over a quarter of the world’s population is now on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. As social media creates easy access for connectivity among the people, is becoming more and more powerful day by day. While social media is also playing a very important role in bringing questions and awareness in society about the problems faced by the different people in society like the #MeToo Movement. Which left a great impact on social media. It brings the issues of women facing harassment, torture, exploitation not only at the workplace but also at home. #MeToo Movement got support from everywhere across the globe. The movement left the question in front of us to think and discuss the harassment and exploitation of women.

Sexual Harassment Laws in India

Over the period like other countries, India also developed new laws in context with sexual harassment according to the demand of time. In the 1990’s Bhanwari Lal Devi, who was a Rajasthan Government employee, tried to stop child marriage in the appointed area as in due course of her work. The head of the community got enraged with this act of her and raped her repeatedly. Unfortunately, the High Court of Rajasthan failed to deliver justice. A PIL (Public Interest Litigation) was filed and in 1997, in a landmark judgment, the Honourable court established the guidelines to deal with the complaints related to sexual harassment in India.

The cases related to sexual harassment is governed according to the following laws:

1) Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

2)  Indian Penal Code, 1860

  • Section 294 – obscene acts and songs,
  • Section 354 – assault or criminal force to women with intent to outrage her modesty,
  • Section 354A – sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment,
  • Section 354C -voyeurism,
  • Section 354D – stalking,
  • Section 499 – defamation,
  • Section 503 – criminal intimidation,

3)         Information and Technology Act, 2000: Section 67 – punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form.

Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

According to the latest report of the National Crime Bureau, rape is 12% of all crimes against women. According to the reports, 99% of sexual violence against women is unreported. After the Delhi Gang Rape case, the censor noticed the jump in rape cases with 26%, mainly in the northern region of the country like Delhi, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.

Sexual harassment can be termed as “harassment at workplace, professional or social situation, unwanted sexual advance, favours or obscene remarks from someone with whom the person is no comfort.” The Vishaka Guideline directed by the Supreme Court of India includes all kinds of sexual harassment.

According to the act, if any kind of harassment has occurred at a workplace, during her employment, educational institute, or hospital where she is admitted for the treatment, then she can file a case against the accused under this act. It protects all women irrespective of age, employment status, whether in organized or unorganized, public or private sectors.  It covers domestic workers and customers also.

An internal complaints committee is mandatory to be set up in each office with 10 or more employees to investigate complaints of assaults.

  • If that committee is not been set up, then a penalty of Rs.50, 000 shall be levied upon the business, with the cancellation of license if violence is repeated. (Section 26).
  • The case can be filed before a committee by a survivor, relative, friend, or any other person who knows about the incident with the written permission of the victim.
  • The complaint should consist of location, timings, dates, and name of accused if known. This information is essential about the complaint.
  • The inquiry by the committee should be completed within 90 days and then a report has to be made in 60 days. This deadline shall have to be strictly adhered to.

Governments across the globe still need to ensure that online governance should be legitimate and fair. The law provides the framework through which to evaluate the legitimacy of online governance and what limits should be imposed on societies should be prescribed. Such laws should be drafted which are easy to understand and must be clear for the easy understanding of the common man.

In the wake of the “#Me too Movement”, in India, some group of individuals moved to Delhi High Court on 11th October for the prevention of women from sexual harassment ordeal on social media as it implicates the petitioners. This action brings the question in the light “whether women who face sexual harassment can be legally restrained from disclosing the identities of the perpetrators on social media.”  During the time of the campaign, it has observed that the main accused of sexual harassment has filed defamation suits against the complainants. In other countries also the main accused of sexual assault have filed a defamation suit against the complaints to counter them. It’s a kind of threat to victims of such abuse from reporting their ordeals or could prompt them to retract their complaints.

Conclusion & Suggestion

The #Metoo Movement started with great energy to provide justice to all those women who are facing sexual harassment at their workplace. In India, the movement had left the remarks and various questions in front of the government and authority. But the answers are still not delivered by anyone.

Sexual harassment needs to be deal with by the government or the consent authority because it leaves a great impact on the person’s life who went through all these. That person not only faces sexual harassment that particular event also leaves an impact on the mental health of the person. The maximum time the victim of the sexual assault is children and women.  As we study above sexual harassment can be done through a lot of medium like facing someone to watch pornography, obscene, and songs which makes a person comfortable. The #Metoo Movement not only provides the platform for the women to speak about what they have gone through and going through to date. It gives power to women across the globe to take a stand against the wrong done by society to them.

As we all know the latest case related to the same social media “Bois Locker-room” which took place on the social platform Instagram in Delhi. Which group of boys are there group share the nudes and obscene pictures of the girls without their knowledge. The group of boys who are involved in this all belongs to the age group of 16 to 18. This act again arises the question in front of the society the laws related to deal with social media are enough? Do they need the modification in this keep on changing society?

In India, sexual harassment cases are only deal with women and children. But, what about the men who also face sexual harassment to. Because of the so-called quote “pain is not for mans” it doesn’t mean that they don’t face harassment or exploitation at their workplace or home.

What do you think?

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Written by Dheeraj Kumar

Dheeraj Kumar, an ambitious final year law student from GGSIPU, new Delhi He is very positive, realistic n has a keen interest in writing legal articles related to ADR, mediation, family law, and criminal law. He has worked with different support groups and NGOs. He loves to travel, cook, and learn new things. He has a self-confident and motivated person.

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