mid-day editorial: It's never too late to speak up

On Saturday, a filmmaker made the bold move of naming and shaming a man who had sexually harassed her years ago — the same man who was now handing her an award at a film festival.

In a report in this newspaper yesterday, Adwaita Das, who wanted to be identified, said a short film at the festival had emboldened her to speak up. She said that when she was a student at the Film and Television Institute of India, she had been harassed by Nilanjan Datta, an associate professor of film editing there. She had lost the battle for justice then.

She told the audience how she had faced sarcasm and disbelief and did not get justice when she had spoken out against her tormentor years ago. So many sexual harassment targets will identify with that.

It is heartening that more women are now coming forward to talk about what they have faced in their lives. That they are summoning the courage to talk about their experiences on public platforms or to take their
tormentors to court, shows that things are changing to some extent.

Having said that, one cannot dismiss the fact that it still takes an extensive support system, tremendous courage and the knowledge that it may be long and arduous fight — one which you may eventually lose.

Ironically, this can only change substantially when still more women come forward, when discussion on the issue swells to a point where the culprits get the message that they will not get away with it any longer.

It is not going to be easy, and, there is a price to pay. Yet, one day, if that cost slowly shrinks, and perhaps even disappears altogether, it will be thanks to those brave women who paved the way for this to happen.

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