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#MeToo #Stalking time for society to address these issues

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Priya Vandana Jayarajan

Counselor. Cynophilist.

“The world suffers a lot, not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people”.

Post Harvey Weinstein, we have entered a very strange, scary world. Although many victims who were celebrities, have come out and spoken up, there is still a hush all around. Back home when Tarun Tejpal was slapped with rape charges, not many in the Media/Bollywood etc had spoken up or stood up for the victim. With #MeToo hitting India finally, feeling of guilt, shame and anxiety pervades the society. We are in a period of almost unprecedented mainstream discussion of gendered harassment.

In this day and age, when the number of working women is going up, sexual exploitation has become more rampant at work place. Although it has been going on for decades, seldom the victims spoke, either due to fear, intimidation or personal ambitions. While the real world is battling hard to fight this problem, the virtual world too is posing a dangerous threat- stalking on social media platforms like Facebook etc. It’s extremely dangerous and more common than we actually think. FB allows people to connect with one another without ever having met or talked. Sexual predators, stalkers use this aspect to their advantage and it has deleterious consequences.

A stalker can be anyone – a colleague, a long lost family member, ex boyfriend/girlfriend, a friend of friend or a complete stranger. It’s pertinent to note that they are not ignorant people, they are extremely intelligent. Most stalking is perpetrated by men against women. They may do it for the sake of escaping their own problems in life or because of obsession with someone. Rejection, anger, resentment may also fuel decision to stalk. It can involve threatening behaviour and harassment. Out of context, these actions may appear non threatening but they cause the victim to feel fear and emotional discomfort. It can be a very frightening experience leading to exacerbation of mental health of the victim. I am speaking from my own experience.

Sexual predators are all over the world and those who are affected adversely are people who did not take the precautions to protect themselves by putting their foot down and exposing the perpetrators.

Social media gives a cover of anonymity and a cloak to indulge in vacuous behaviour towards women. It has assumed gigantic proportions of late.

The line should be clear and not blurred about transgressions of any kind. As responsible citizens, we should be totally against such egregious behaviour.

Lastly, its imperative that you exercise caution and never allow anyone to assume that friendship/association gives them the licence to cross a well defined line. Relationship is built on respect and trust. No one should try to breach that trust or they’ll end up losing the moral right to continue being a friend as the edifice of friendship will crumble.

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Priya Vandana Jayarajan

Counselor. Cynophilist.

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