See More on Facebook

Culture and society

Finalist: The Women of India’s #MeToo movement

In a country noted for its abuse and violence towards women, the #MeToo movement has sparked necessary conversation and is changing norms.


Written by

Updated: December 26, 2018

Asia News Network will reveal its person of the year on December 28. For more on the finalists and runners up, please click this link here. 

After a year of very little momentum, India’s #MeToo movement exploded in October. The tide turned in a similar way as it had in the United States, where the hashtag was born. The ripples began in the media industry, but, as in the West, the reckoning within journalism, film and television was only the beginning.

Before long the movement’s waves moved outward, touching nearly every aspect of Indian society, from politics to the world of big corporations, from religion to law enforcement to sport. The Indian public was finally bringing powerful men to task for long histories of bad behavior that had been swept under the rug.

Perhaps the most powerful man to be taken down by India’s #MeToo movement—which has thus far toppled big-name Bollywood stars, a Netflix-associated production studio and a beloved comedy group—is M.J. Akbar, a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet. His role—minister of state for external affairs—is akin to that of the American secretary of state.

Akbar’s name was first mentioned in association within the #MeToo context by Priya Ramani, a journalist. A handful of women then went on to share harrowing personal stories of Akbar’s history of harassment, physical advances, workplace sexual manipulation, and rape during his tenure at Asian Age, the newspaper he founded in the 1990s. More than 20 other women have signed their names to a letter accusing Akbar of the same behavior.

Akbar tendered his resignation, but he has not been quiet or contrite. Rather, he has taken his accusers to court for defamation, highlighting the Indian institution that has, perhaps, failed the country’s women the most over the years.

Previous attempts by Indian women to gain justice for sexual crimes through the country’s legal system have proven painful. The case against Tarun Tejpal for example, another prominent editor accused of sexual assault, was brought to court 5 years ago and there is still no verdict in sight. The future of the Indian #MeToo movement may ride on whether institutions like these will follow the lead of the hashtag’s calls to action.

It remains to be seen whether the movement is powerful enough to touch the lives of India’s ordinary women in a significant way, and there is much work to be done. According to a World Bank report from 2017, the country is seeing declines in women participating in the workforce. In 1994, 42.6 percent of women participated in the labor force, by 2011, that rate had dropped to 31.2 percent.

And, India is still a very dangerous place to be a woman or girl. In the World Economic Forum’s 2018 report on gender parity, India ranked third-lowest in the world on Health and Survival for women. According to the WEF, that makes India the world’s least-improved country on that particular subindex over the past decade.

It’s unclear if a hashtag will be enough to topple or change systems and institutions that have kept India’s women down, or if ordinary women outside the spotlight will get their turns at justice. The changes many Indian women hope for will certainly take time, but in 2018, #MeToo was able to get these conversations off the ground in ways the country has rarely seen before.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Quinn Libson
About the Author: Quinn Libson is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Culture and society

S. Korea grapples with gender discrimination in workplace

Despite it’s high economic developments, critics say that South Korea has to improve workplace equality. South Korea has seen its female employment index improve steadily over the past 10 years, but continues to struggle with gender equality when it comes to parental leave and consequent career breaks, data showed Monday. Unlike in most developed economies which tend to see the employment rate of women in their 40s peak and start declining in the 50s, Korea has seen women in their late 30s and early 40s — the prime age for childbirth and childcare — being pushed out of the labor market. All seven of the so-called 30-50 club count


By The Korea Herald
October 22, 2019

Culture and society

World gathers to mark Emperor’s enthronement

Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony to take place on Tuesday. The main enthronement proclamation ceremony, one of the rituals to mark the Emperor’s accession to the throne, is to be held Tuesday at the Imperial Palace in the presence of about 2,000 guests, including representatives from 183 countries, the United Nations and the European Union. The Emperor will declare his accession at the Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi ceremony. The about 400 foreign guests will include Britain’s Prince Charles, other royalty and heads of state. They will be joined by representatives of various fields in Japan, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the heads of the administrative, legislative and judicial branches, Diet members and governors. Sadaharu Oh, chairman of the company operating the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks; ninth-dan shogi player Yoshiharu Habu; and Susumu Nakanishi, a profe


By The Japan News
October 22, 2019

Culture and society

King Rama X strips ‘noble consort’ of her Royal titles

King Rama X has stripped Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi of her “Chao Khun Phra” or noble consort title as well as her military rank. The Royal Gazette published on Monday (October 21) that His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua had also recalled her Royal insignia, owing to her undesirable behaviour as a Royal servant and being disloyal to the Royal Family. The statement said Sineenat had been against the appointment of Queen Suthida and had given many orders under the name of Their Majesties for her personal benefit. She also reportedly engaged in activities without His Majesty’s approval, which caused confusion among the public.


By The Nation (Thailand)
October 22, 2019

Culture and society

Religious violence in Bangladesh leaves 4 dead, dozens injured

The violence was sparked by social media posts. At least four people were killed and more than a hundred others injured yesterday as religious zealots clashed with police in Bhola’s Borhanuddin upazila over a hate conversation spread through Facebook and its messenger. At one stage of the clash that broke out around 10:30am, law enforcers had to fire shot


By Daily Star
October 21, 2019

Culture and society

Chinese TV drama to air on Kenya’s national television

China has expanded aggressively into Africa. Kenya Broadcasting Corporation on Saturday signed a partnership agreement with China’s National Radio and Television Administration that will see the national broadcaster air a popular Chinese TV drama, Feather Flies to the Sky. The drama is a 55-episode series that will be aired by national broadcaster Channel one TV until June next year. Speaking during the launch event in Nairobi, Kenya, Dr Naim Bilal, the managing director of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, said the TV series has been dubbed in Standard Kiswahili, one of the official languages in Kenya, to make it appealing to many people. “We have reviewed the series, looked at its quality and content as well as the quality of the language, and we are fully satisfied that it’s a drama that is going to entertain Kenyans,” Bilal said. He sa


By China Daily
October 21, 2019

Culture and society

Rationalising climate change

The first step to addressing the alarming problem of climate change is creating awareness, which authors and scientists are tirelessly attempting to inculcate in people. Franz Kafka (1883- 1924), a Bohemian novelist who is considered a major literary figure of the 20th century, wrote, “There is infinite hope… but not for us.” His words tell us of the characters in his narratives who embark on various ventures, but seldom succeed. Today, writers highlight these words of Kafka to refer not to Kafka’s characters, but to humanity’s future with reference to climate change. Some of these writers, in present times, similarly project that the hope for a greener planet is “not for us.” We are informed of mankind’s anguish concerning the problem of climate change. The truth of the matter is that a lot has already occurred, with side effects of climate change being felt the world over. Even a fraction of


By The Statesman
October 17, 2019