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

The Chinese version

Muhammad Amir Rana asks what is the Chinese version of Islam.  TENSIONS between China and the US have escalated after the House of Representative’s Uighur Human Rights Policy Act, 2019. The move is of a piece with the allegations of many international media and human rights organisations that China is persecuting the Uighur community and violating their rights — allegations that Beijing has denied. Calling the US action a political move aimed at damaging its international image, China says it is running a deradicalisation programme to mainstream its communities. Read: Amid global outcry, China defends internment camps of minorities in Xinjiang The Chinese claim has not been verified by independent sources and mystery shrouds its deradicalisation or re-education programme. China needs to demonstra


By Dawn
December 16, 2019

Culture and society

India under Modi is moving systematically with a supremacist agenda, says PM Imran

Imran Khan made the comments after India passed a controversial citizenship requirement. Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been moving systematically with a Hindu supremacist agenda. The prime minister was referencing the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill passed by India’s upper house amid protests on Wednesday. The bill will let the Indian government grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants who entered India from three neighbouring countries before 2015 — but not if they are Muslim. Modi’s government — re-elected in May and under pressure over a slowing economy — says Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are excluded from the legislation because they do not face discrimination in those countries. Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister I


By Dawn
December 13, 2019

Culture and society

Nepal moves up in Human Development Index but still lags behind in South Asia

Nepal’s human development index of 0,579 indicates that people are living longer, are more educated and have greater incomes, according to the Human Development Report. Despite global progress in tackling poverty, hunger and disease, a ‘new generation of inequalities’ indicates that many societies are not working as they should and Nepal is not an exception, according to a new human development report released on Tuesday. The old inequalities were based on access to health services and education whereas the new generation of inequalities is based on technology, education and the climate, according to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report. “Previously, we talked about wealth as a major driver for inequality. Now, countries like Nepal are in another inequality trap and that concerns


By The Kathmandu Post
December 12, 2019

Culture and society

Taiwan among top 10 study destinations for U.S. students

Thailand and Singapore among other Asian destinations. China welcomed the highest number of U.S. students last year, followed by Japan and India in second and third places, respectively, according to a recent survey about exchange students in Asia. South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, and Indonesia rounded up the top 10 list of the most popular Asian countries among U.S. students. According to AsiaExchange, “The high level of education, low exposure to crime, economic freedom and good healthcare system are a few examples of why Taiwan is ranked 2nd on the annual Global Peace Index.” It’s also very safe to live in Taiwan, as crime rates are low, the Website stressed, noting that Taiwan’s focus on human rights, gender equality and freedom of speech has made it a top destination for education. Taiwan, whose institutions are strong and reliable, has remained la


By Cod Satrusayang
December 12, 2019

Culture and society

Relentless against child marriage

Farida Yesmin wins an award for her work to prevent child marriage. It was a rainy day in July 2018. As the evening fell, someone called Farida Yesmin, upazila nirbahi officer of Netrakona’s Barhatta, over her phone and informed her that a child marriage was about to take place in Kawrashi, a remote village in the upazila near the Bangladesh-India border. Farida immediately called the police and left for the village in the dark of the night amid rain and thunderstorms. The road was so bad that at one point, the UNO and her team had to leave their vehicles. They walked about two kilometres to find the girl’s home. “As we reached the spot, a local leader tried to stop us. But despite all these hurdles, we were able to prevent the marriage,” Farida said while recalling how she and her team stopped a staggering 59 child marriages after she joined as the Barhatta UNO on May 9, 2017. She


By Daily Star
December 2, 2019

Culture and society

Rental car accidents involving foreign drivers increasing

The number correlates to the increasing number of tourists. As the number of foreign tourists to Japan has increased in recent years, so also has the number of traffic accidents involving rental vehicles with foreign drivers. According to the Institute for Traffic Accident Research and Data Analysis, 330 such accidents resulting in injury or death occurred from 2014 to 2018, with the accident rate about 5.5 times higher than that for rental vehicles driven by Japanese. Differences in road traffic rules followed in Japan and overseas mainly explain this, and with only about eight months remaining until the start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the government is scrambling to install road signs written in English, including ones to warn drivers approaching dangerous spots. To drive in Japan, a visitor must possess documents including an international dri


By The Japan News
November 29, 2019