Women’s Movement #MeToo: Breaking silence towards sexual harassment and assault


There has been a significant intensification of neoliberal policies and this has led to collapse in the welfare provisions and it is women who have been affected the most in every aspect of their life in addition with the burden of ensuring the survival of family and responsibility of domestic chores. (Olivera, 2006; González de la Rocha, 2001)

The feminist movement or the women’s movement has been on rise and the major issues that have been dealt in past are campaigns for reforms on issues of reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women’s suffrage, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.  There have been 3 waves of Feminism, the first targeted suffrage and political equality involving middle and upper white women. The second wave targeted social and cultural inequalities and third wave of feminism is still targeting the financial, social and cultural inequalities and campaigning for greater influence of women in politics and media.

It is believed that 21st century is a progressive century. There is a stronghold believe towards equality between gender and in the contemporary times we do not even see gender to be binary and has expanded the definition of gender beyond man and woman. Still there is a lack of justice or equality to be seen in the present times.

There has been objectification and commodification of women’s mind and bodies (McRobbie, 2009). This has led to increase in inequality, exclusion, alienation and violence towards women.

Women empowerment movement can be traced back to the 1800s, most notable of all are the women-led anti-slavery movement, anti-military prostitution movement, the peace movement, and the suffrage movement (Cynthia Enloe). It was observed that every woman-led movement has experienced contempt of the larger public with opposition from the state. Patriarchal setup and misogyny have always restricted women in every aspect of their lives. [1]

Data Based on Gender Violence

A study by Katherine Clancy states that intersection of race and gender acts in such a way that it drives out minority women out of jobs like in scientific, engineering, medical field, at a disproportionate rate compared to white women. The data from Clancy’s study indicates that it is the trainee or the people employed on contract basis were most likely to be harassed by their supervisor or mentor. [1]

In a survey “Elephant in the Valley Survey” findings reveal that in a tech industry with 200 people as sample size it was 60 percent who had experienced sexual harassment and only 10 percent had reported it to human resources while 39 percent did not report out of fear.

“Academia is no Hollywood. But it is also infected by a hidden epidemic of sexual Misconduct”. The academia is also filled with instances of sexual harassment but it is the education that gives an individual tool to voice out this is what generally is believed but is that the case? There are surely cases of ad-hoc female professors or assistant professors being harassed by male counterparts. Women in every field from scientific to medical fields have been victims of sexual harassment. The harassment is so deep rooted that it has impacted on recruitments, retention, promotion of women.[1]

When taking the health sector into consideration it can be seen that globally it is dominated by women. Women everywhere experience gender-based violence but women in global health fieldwork have particularly experienced sexual assault and harassment. A survey has displayed the fact that it is 70% of women experienced violence and 26% have reported it. Women in global health are tacitly expected to follow fieldwork methods established by men and women must work harder to live up to the unspoken standards of being “tough enough” to make it in the field. However, it is seen that women face greater challenges in attaining permanent academic positions, moving up the rank and having their professional achievement recognised. [2]  Therefore, it can be observed that women employed from the informal sector to the formal sector have been victims of gender- violence.

New age medium to voice gender violence

Contemporary time can be said to be a fast pace time, with smartphones in every hand and social networking bringing the world together crossing different borders. There has been a unique way through which gender violence has been voiced out. The MeToo movement or #MeToo is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault. It started on social media in 2006, on Myspace by a survivor of sexual harassment Tarana Burke. The movement was about breaking the silence which was prevailing in the society due to fear, stigma, cultural restrictions. The movement began to spread virally as a hashtag on social media in 2017 when a famous actress Alyssa Milano posted on Twitter about her experience and also encouraged other women and people who have been harassed in order to make society realise about the situation of sexual harassment.  This demonstrated that sexual assault and harassment has been prevalent and was not voiced earlier in the social media platform.

The #MeToo movement has brought attention to gender-based violence. #MeToo has made an important shift in how gender violence is reported and then prevented. With the increase in the number of women coming forward and voicing they’re experienced it gave strength to the survivors and empowered them. The movement spread across countries and in different languages. The movement has its own limitation where experiences of women and people of diverse gender identities have not been still addressed. Gender-based violence is not just a concern for women but for everyone. Women and people of different gender identities have rights to a safe workspace and the right to acknowledge any harassment without being judged. There has been an increase in the incidences of sexual harassment and discrimination in every job avenue.

It has however moved the gender-based violence into mainstream discourse. At international level, there has been various steps taken to empower women. anti-gender equality alliance-making among state actors in the United Nations (UN). The gendered pro-gun transnational lobbying by the US-based National Rifle Association (NRA) and its allies of multi-national gun manufacturing companies.

In USA, the Member and Employee Training and Oversight on Congress Act (ME TOO Congress Act) on November 15, 2017 has been passed which has for the first time included unpaid workers, including pages, fellows and interns.


Cultural factors play an important role in different perceptions of which behaviour constitutes as sexual harassment, what might be fine with somebody that might offend someone else. It has become clear that gender-based violence was an issue of vast importance and has not been adequately dealt with. It is also noted that in the professional environment where women are not represented, the possibility of women reporting to sexual harassment is less likely.

When gender violence enters a workspace, the work is compromised. For a very long-time women who were reporting violence against them have been looked down upon and discredited. “The fear of damaged reputation and stigma of being object to gender violence is real”. Gender equity is for everyone and everyone should contribute to it.

MeToo movement has been very successful in the western or developed countries where the culprits have been punished. Famous personalities have been fired from their work but when taking case of India there had been a lot of accusations towards famous personalities but no action was taken by anyone. The MeToo started as a movement to empower but it was seen that even when a famous personality was being accused then society boycotted the victims. This shows that how helpless can a middle class or ordinary person be while dealing with harassment. 

Though in contemporary times every household is equipped with technology but the poor and rural areas of India are still far from this progress. Therefore, eliminating a large pool of people who in daily lives have been assaulted in some way or other. Apart from looking into class measures, power relations also come into play where it can be observed that not everyone facing assault and harassment can voice out due to various reasons.

Curbing gender violence

There is a need to curb gender-violence and for that awareness about how prevalent gender violence is important. Once it is established that there has been huge number of cases of gender violence and how rapidly they are on rise, then solutions can be worked upon to curb this violence.  This was basically the idea behind MeToo movement. 

The committee on the impacts of sexual harassment can be set up to create awareness among fellow beings and attendance to this committee should be made mandatory as this sensitive issue just cannot be ignored. The different kinds of policies and procedures an institute/ organisation holds gives them leverage towards responding to sexual harassment cases.

It is often seen that employees struggle with confusion over what constitute has sexual harassment. Remedying sexual harassment in the workplace has often posed as a challenge. The training provided in institute is often not looked upon practically and is not rated for its effectiveness.


Gender violence is a violation of human rights and freedom from gender-based violence is a necessity. Women’s movements are often organised to make an attempt to reclaim their rights. There are different strategies that have been worked out to voice the problems that women face in the patriarchal setup. Poor women are the one who have faced the harshest form of violence as they are the ones to struggle to make their ends meet. In Indian society where a female is seen to be pride and prestige of the family, the restrictions towards them makes them more vulnerable as the fallback position of women in any society is less than that of a man. 

There have been various measures to curb gender- violence but every movement in India or globally has its limitations. The reports about gender violence are still on rise. The is a necessity to understand the psyche of the perpetrator in order to bring out a holistic and integrated solution towards this problem.

MeToo Movement has made some changes but has its limitations. MeToo movement has moved the gender-based violence into mainstream discourse. There has been increase in the reporting of gender based violence but still a long road  needs to be travelled to free people from threat of harassment and assault.


  1. Women of Color Magazine, 17(1), 36-38. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/26580517
  2. Enloe, C., & Journal of International Affairs. (2019). HYPERMASCULINITY AND #METOO: BACKLASH AND HURDLES IN FEMINIST MOVEMENTS. Journal of International Affairs, 72(2), 119-124. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/26760836
  3. HALL-CLIFFORD, R. (2019). Where There Is No Hashtag: Considering Gender-Based Violence in Global Health Fieldwork in the Time of #MeToo. Health and Human Rights, 21(1), 129-132. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/26727077
  4. : A Call to Action. Health and Human Rights, 21(1), 133-140. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/26727078

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