Anoo Bhuyan: We were not willing to throw stones at our own glass house
On October 4, Anoo Bhuyan, journalist with The Wire, posted a series of tweets, naming fellow reporter Mayank Jain of misconduct
Blew open the lid on #MeToo in Indian media, along with Sandhya Menon
In India, this was the year when tweets shook up foundations. On October 4, Anoo Bhuyan, journalist with The Wire, posted a series of tweets, naming fellow reporter Mayank Jain of misconduct. Jain, who was with Business Standard, was immediately fired, and within days, names from the media industry started pouring out, bringing the edifice down.
"I was breathlessly following #MeToo 12 months ago, when [law student] Raya Sarkar came out with her list [naming alleged sexual predators from Indian academia]," says Bhuyan. "I was upset because #MeToo wasn't taking off in India in any substantial way. Part of my frustration was also with myself, because I was not willing to come out with my own #MeToo stories. There are a couple of professions, in which #MeToo wasn't breaking out in, like the media circle, the legal circle, the medical circle.
Journalists were reporting these stories, but we were not willing to throw stones at our own glass house. On October 4, around midnight, I posted my #MeToo story, just before going to sleep. When I woke up in the morning, it had picked up resonance with a lot of people. Sandhya Menon had also spoken about her own stories from various newsrooms. Then, the MJ Akbar stories started coming out, and #MeToo in Indian media suddenly and finally opened up."
From a personal engagement with #MeToo, Bhuyan has taken on an organisational role, along with Menon and Rituparna Chatterjee, who runs the Twitter handle, @IndiaMeToo. "There was such an outpouring of women coming out with stories, that we all came together. We started our own channels of communication and figured how we could best serve the other women."
Going forward, Bhuyan sees a circle of support forming around survivors. "Women have been wired in a certain way - not to make a scene about sexual harassment and abuse, not be loud about it. But women who have a #MeToo [story], experience that sudden moment, when that wiring changes, and you ask yourself, 'Why won't I talk about this?'
The last three months have certainly been good, and they've been heavy. There's so much community-trauma that's been dredged up. Of course, there have been days when we've just broken down, but there's something larger and more important that needs to be done - there are women who need to be served. We have soldiered on with that in mind. Those who have the strength must push along for others, who might not have as much privilege or security as we do."
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