Somy Ali weighs in on MeToo movement in India: ‘Women are subject to guilt and shame’ | Bollywood

Somy Ali advocates for women’s rights and their freedom on her social media accounts. She runs an NGO for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, she discusses why the MeToo movement failed to gain momentum in India. (Also read: Somy Ali backs Zeenat Aman amid backlash, says ‘live-in-relationships can bring down divorce rates’)

Somy Ali says women are subject to guilt and shame when they open up about harassment.
Somy Ali says women are subject to guilt and shame when they open up about harassment.

Somy Ali is hopeful of justice for MeToo survivors

When quizzed on why the MeToo movement in India could not create a lasting cultural shift, Somy recalls Tanushree Dutta’s case. Shesays, “Diandra (Soares), who is a model and good friend of mine also opened up during the MeToo movement in India apart from Tanushree Dutta. In America it took 18 years for people to speak up against Jeffrey Epstein and Bill Cosby. Hollywood actors like Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd took 18 years to open up about facing harassment during the time of MeToo movement. You can imagine how many years it will take in India and Pakistan to deliver justice. There are all sorts of crimes in America as well.”

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Somy further adds, “OJ Simpson died recently and everyone knew he was behind the killing of his wife and her boyfriend. But he got away with murder. Nobody spoke about it because they were scared. He even took the custody of the children. Karma did strike him, and he was jailed for stealing memorabilia from a Hard Rock Cafe. As a fan of Shah Rukh Khan, I consider him as an intellectual and often repost his quotes on social media. Shah Rukh Khan always says, if things go wrong or they don’t happen as per our plans, then picture abhi baaki hai (the show is not over yet).”

‘Corruption is the foundation of India, Pakistan’

The actor-turned activist also cites at how ‘fear factor’ and ‘corruption’ impact the justice delivery mechanism. She points out, “We all know what happened to Sushant Singh Rajput, but nobody is raising any questions. Everyone is scared to ask if Jia Khan actually died by suicide or if it was a murder. Nothing is going to change unless the fear factor stays in Bollywood. When I see Sushant’s reels he is highly intellectual, speaking about NASA and even aspired to be an astronaut once. Why would somebody who is so intelligent and such a good actor commit suicide? So many bruises were found in his ankle during autopsy. Fear factor plays a crucial role in India and Pakistan. Guilt, shame, fame, fear, and corruption— the foundation of both India and Pakistan is built on these aspects. Women are subject to guilt and shame. If men have fame, they use it to their advantage through their contacts to create fear among people.”

 

People are scared to speak against harassment

Somy argues that achieving justice for MeToo victims in India still has a long way to go. She says, “I’ll repeat again, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd took 18 years to open up about facing harassment. Do you think anyone is going to do research about Sushant or Jiah’s case? Who is going to come forward to speak up? Till now, only one editor named Mina Das has spoken up about Sushant. Actors haven’t spoken about him. I live in America and I am not scared of anyone. For 17 years I have been working for No More Tears and there have been eight attacks on me. Second attack on me was by a human trafficker who pointed a gun on my head and said, ‘I am warning you, if you again try to pursue the victim, then you’ll be murdered.’ So, I have no fear. If I give up my life working for No More Tears, than there cannot be a better way to leave this world. Every deed is selfish. If people do good to others, it’s for their own personal happiness and contentment. Whatever I am doing it is for my own happiness, I am no Mother Teresa or any saint. I have made many mistakes in childhood and I continue to do so even today.”

Somy Ali made her acting debut with Krishan Avtaar (1993), opposite Mithun Chakraborty.

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