The wave of #MeToo has hit the entire nation and we couldn’t be more grateful to the brave women for stepping out and garnering immense courage to voice out the horrific nightmares they have been experiencing since long in their lives.
And while this has given courage to more women for speaking out in open, the generous support they’ve been receiving from people across the nation with many known names leading the army, has only multiplied the spirit altogether.
Amidst the many influential people whose voice make a difference, we had a word with none other than
Harneet Singh, a journalist and a known name in the field of television industry at present, who is writing for one of the top most shows on Indian TV right now – Ishqbaaaz.
#MeToo has hit the media industry very badly, more than television or Bollywood let’s say and she has been a part of both, as a journalist and as a screenwriter.
As a woman while working during her tenure of work, we went on to ask her if she too heard the whispers about the misconduct of powerful men in the media? Here’s what she had to say –
“I think this has been going on for so long in every industry. It is not just media but in every industry, at workplace there have been lots of incidents”, elaborating further on the prevailing grass root problem, she adds, “When we go to work, we go through a lot and there is another kind of a glass feeling that every woman has to break. It’s a man’s world and we are fighting, there are so many battles that we fight every day and we have been fighting for a really long time. And this patriarchy which is a part of our culture has had it coming. I think women have been quiet and there has been a building anger in women for such a long time. That rage is now coming out. It also happened because women have now started speaking out and they have been saying no more.
It happened because one woman found the courage to speak and the other women echoed that. And it has become like a chain reaction. Because, we, all of us know that whatever the person is saying is true. Because everybody’s story is somehow the same, only the characters are different. And that is what this me too movement has done. It has given immense amount of liberation to women, to own their stories, to have the courage, to come out and say that this has happened with me and I am not ok with it, I will not keep quiet now anymore.”
Upon asking, how she thinks this movement has helped the other female survivors, she says, “This has in-turn given faith and given support to other women. So basically it is the tribe that has come out. All of us are supporting each other. It’s truly a movement where every voice counts. I love it that the conversation has started in a way that today when you talk every man is also forced to listen because it’s an entire generation that is speaking out today.”
She also highlighted how this movement has indeed started to make a difference and what more do we still need to achieve. “And it’s important”, she says, “Because only when conversations begin, then you realize that yes, this is happening. In India, it is a very big thing. There have been allegations and people have been told to quit jobs, be it in films or whatever. But for a Minister to resign, is a very very very big victory. It’s a good fight that we are fighting, we cannot forget it, we cannot feel that we have done it. It’s just the beginning. The change has to happen. And I think slowly and steadily people are forced to now respect and at least listen to women. And the women have the faith in themselves now to say that ‘we are not going to take it’.”
We went on to ask her, how she perceived this movement and what advice she had for the aspiring journalists and writers in the industry. With years of experience and skills, Harneet Singh had some very crucial and meaningful advice to give. “Keep your eyes and ears open, speak out and don’t take it lying low and use that anger in constructive work. Because this is basically what has happened with a minister. It was the testimony of one woman Priya Ramani (who’s my ex-boss and somebody who really shaped me as a journalist), that made other woman supporting her. All of them became like warriors because truth is on their side”, she said.
Stressing on the matter further and shedding some light on the role of media and journalism in this aspect, she said, “Your story is no longer just your story. We are trying to change something, we are on the threshold of really changing something. And I feel the best way is to do your work diligently. And as reporter it becomes your duty now because you are also invested in the story. You have to be the servant to the story and if you know of powerful people who have done something like this, who are guilty of harassing people, who are guilty of using and abusing their privilege or power, do the story. Do diligent checks and bring it out. Name them, bring it out in the open. Let the conversations start.”
She even mentioned about how the #MeToo movement was incorporated in her show Ishqbaaaz. “Even in our shows, in films, we need to write about protagonists or do stories where you show that women are not taking it lying low. That’s what we tried to do in Ishqbaaaz also. And we had that whole chain of women saying mere saath bhi, mere saath bhi. It was a ‘me too’ movement and we had somebody, a character, going through a similar thing and her entire family supporting her through it. But only when she found the strength of everybody, she could name and shame the perpetrator. That’s how the me too movement started, right? – When your family supports you, when your friends support you. You had one woman talking out and then you had other women saying it happened with them also and that is how it started.”
Replying to how she thinks one can make a difference at an individual level, she very rightly stated, “Only once we surround people with a wall of trust and comfort, telling people that ‘ok fine I believe you’, they will come forward. Believe survivors, it is not just a hashtag. Me too is not just a hashtag. Amateur activism is all good, we can all sit in those AC rooms and say ‘ohh yes we have to stand for women’s rights’, but when it comes to really doing it, are you doing it? Suppose if today somebody comes and tells you that somebody in her office tried to do something, support that girl and say ‘I believe you’. Ask her ‘how can I help you’.”
Concluding it, she expressed what she feels should be ultimately done, “I always feel that why should the survivor be shamed? She survived it. The person who did it, name and shame them. Predators have no business harassing people and we women go to work place to do a good job, nobody goes to get abused or nobody goes to be harassed!”