Carola De Min and Valentina Corradi from the Council of Europe. At the World Forum for Democracy, Strasbourg France 2018. Photo: Nandini Archer.
What’s next for the MeToo movement? At the Council of Europe’s annual World Forum for Democracy – which this year is focused on gender equality – we asked five activists one simple question.
Shiori Ito, Japan, freelance journalist
Sexual violence exists everywhere in the world, no matter where you’re from, no matter what race or class you’re from.
[In Japan] we’re never taught what consent means. We live in a society where no sometimes means yes and how can we cope with that? We set our consent age as 13 years old and they don’t teach what consent is in school.
Only 4% of rape is reported to the police. 96% doesn't exist, it’s not there. Why? A lot of it is to do with the judicial system and how they handle the investigation, what kind of culture or idea they have against rape.
Personally, one of the hardest things I had to do in an investigation was I had to reenact the rape, I had to play around with a life-sized doll, to act out the rape, in front of three male investigators, and them taking photos.
Diana Bologova, Germany, European Youth Press
The MeToo campaign for me was quite a big surprise. I first saw it from my Russian colleagues and I didnt believe that it’s for real. I thought that it’s a fake.
But this is very important, and that actually concerns every single girl, every single woman, and we have to go on.
And when I heard that this whole forum was based on that campaign and it was inspired by this campaign, I did everything to come here.
Joycia Thorat, India, the Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action
The MeToo movement is a cathartic moment for women, all the suppressed expression, the space was finally made available to speak about. Any space that allows women to be empowered is a good movement.
In India the main issue is that the MeToo movement is more limited to the upper class… Many times the experiences of violence against the Dalits or tribal children do not come out. They don’t have the media, they don’t have the social network, they don’t have the social means, the capacity, the power.
Recently we had a story of a 13-year-old young child girl who was killed because she said no to a man. Her neighbour was from the upper caste. She was a Dalit child. But no press, no paper, no-one, no judiciary, no governance system, wanted to mention the case.
Joycia Thorat from the Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action. At the World Forum for Democracy, Strasbourg France 2018. Photo: Nandini Archer.
Carola De Min, Italy, Council of Europe
Women are now standing up for themselves, they feel a bit more confident. But there’s also this downside... there’s also an increase in bad comments, especially from men who accuse women of lying.
We need the authorities, the policemen and other systems to trust women and to know how to handle the cases because at the moment they don’t know. If the victims are asked what were you wearing, were you drunk, if someone says they were sexually harassed, for the most part, most of the time, it’s true.
The first step has to be education. Also to keep talking about it, and social media has a role here… because not talking about it will make it a taboo, which will enlarge the problem.
Harish Sadani, India, Men Against Violence and Abuse
Toxic masculinity and male entitlement to power and privilege are the roots of all kinds of gender-based discrimination and violence against women.
This MeToo movement, we must understand the context in which it came. When the systems have not been working, the redressal or social justice mechanisms, which should have been formally placed in many establishments.
It’s a very strange thing in countries like india. You want to stop sexual harassment in the workplace, but without talking about sexuality. Can that happen? You are not addressing the root cause. And I find that strange.
In India, and I think in other parts [of the world] as well, the response of men to the MeToo campaign was not forthcoming…
[Some] raised their voice in support of the women, but not to the extent that the population was concerned, and there were large number of people from the literary field, sports, that were silent, who are still silent.
* 50.50 is reporting on this week’s events in Strasbourg as part of openDemocracy’s partnership with the 2018 World Forum for Democracy.