The #MeToo movement started in 2006 with activist and sexual harassment survivor Tarana Burke speaking out on the social media platform, MySpace. Since then, it has become a huge social movement against sexual harassment and sexual abuse, with people publicly speaking out about similar experiences.
Then in 2017, #MeToo became a viral hashtag when celebrities started sharing experiences about the sexual misconduct of Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein. It encouraged people all over the world to speak out against sexism, harassment, and discrimination.
The kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard in London on 3 March, has led to a global movement regarding the safety of women in public. Sarah was walking home at 9PM, in a well-lit neighborhood wearing bright clothing and sneakers while speaking to her boyfriend on the phone, taking every safety precaution a woman could take. However, she did not make it home.
On 12 March, her remains were found and a police officer, Wayne Couzens was arrested and charged with kidnapping and murder. Women across the UK and the world are enraged by the incident caused by a law enforcement officer who is supposed to protect. How can women feel safe if police are committing such acts?
Incidents of this nature have given rise to a social movement because of the rage and frustration. How can the government and law enforcement keep women safe from the violence committed by men?
The brutal rape and murder of 13-year-old Nirmala Pant is an example of how higher up officials can influence justice from being served as the perpetrators continue to walk freely. The recent rape and murder of 17-year-old Bhagirathi Bhatta is another example of how women continue to get the short end of the stick and pay for the inhumane acts committed by men.
How is it possible for women to feel safe and protected when men continue getting away after committing such acts? How can the country keep its daughters safe?
Many women experience daily sexual harassment in public and it is the women who feel more embarrassed than the perpetrators who do not seem to feel any shame and remorse regarding their behavior. And it is the women who are ashamed to come forward and speak up because of the stigma attached. It is the men who commit the shameful act, and it is the women who pay for it, as we have also seen in Bhatta’s case.
In many societies, victim-blaming is the immediate reaction. Speaking up about sexual harassment is important, so we can fight against all forms of violence against everyone.
Despite having laws against gender-based violence in Nepal, very few cases are reported in the excuse of protecting the family’s name and honour.
The victims and survivors often end up dealing with a lifetime of stigma if they choose to report such crimes. There is no guarantee of safety and protection once someone speaks up, which is one of the main reasons women silently suffer.