Bhopal: ‘Gender discrimination won’t end until sex continues to be treated a taboo in our society’

BHOPAL: The #MeToo movement in India, which had put many a top editor and wellknown personality in the dock, seems to have fizzled out. And that does not augur well for the cause of safety and security of working women.

A few cases came to the fore and there was a lot of hullaballoo. And that was that. But has it translated into the end of sexual harassment or exploitation of women at workplace? Had it made women self-confident? Do they now have the courage to report unwanted sexual advances of their superiors? According to Anant Bagaitkar, president of the Press Club of India, these are the questions we need to dwell on.

Bagaitkar, who was in the city to attend a function, told Free Press that India has scores of law for the security, safety and wellbeing of women. There are stringent laws against sexual exploitation at workplace and against domestic violence.

“Our Maternity Benefits Act is much better than the corresponding law in the US,” he said. But, he lamented, we are very much wanting in the implementation of these laws, especially in the private sector. Bagaitkar said that statutory bodies like National Commission for Women should play a proactive role in ensuring that these laws are implemented.

Referring to the #MeToo campaign, he said that today, if a woman raises the issue of her sexual exploitation at workplace, she does not face scorn or ridicule. In fact, she gets full support of society, at least in urban and semi-urban areas. Given that, he said, women should freely come forward to expose predators who demand sexual favours in return for career advancement.

“They should do it immediately after they face such an ordeal. If you wait for 10 or 12 years before raising an accusing finger at someone, you are only weakening your case,” he said. The senior journalist said that media should support the women’s cause. But ultimately, it is the women themselves who have to come forward and assert their rights. He said that until sex continues to be treated a taboo in our society, gender discrimination won’t end.

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