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How to Believe Women

Women are speaking out to reclaim their experiences, so far understood only through the language of patriarchy.

Two women have had to repeatedly recount their experiences of sexual assault to the world last week. In the United States (US), Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology spoke out about Supreme Court nominee Brett M Kavanaugh, testifying that he had assaulted her when they were both teenagers in 1982. In Mumbai, actress Tanushree Dutta spoke to a television channel about being harassed by actor Nana Patekar on a filmset in 2008 and of consequently being bullied out of the film industry.

The importance of these testimonies goes beyond the violence of specific harassers. They fit into a larger pattern that many women are recognising in the wake of the #MeToo movement; a pattern where everyday structures and camaraderie work to protect and embolden sexual harassers and normalise harassment. Despite being a grave offence, sexual harassment is not an exceptional act. It is merely the manifestation of the everyday power and impunity that men hold. A drunk high-school teenage boy and an actor with political clout, both have shocking impunity.

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Updated On : 9th Oct, 2018

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