When a woman files a complaint

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Swetha Menon
An actress attends a public function. Among the guests, there is a well-known politician - a member of parliament- who is a septuagenarian. During the function he tries to 'touch' her. She decides to keep calm throughout the function. After the function, the shocked, shaken actress decides to speak up. She tells the district collector and even talks to the media about the incident.

The media takes up the issue and the situation turns extremely muddled. Video footages, telephone interviews, debates, discussions on why Swetha is/is not wrong is all over the channels. The actress is visibly shaken and 48 hours later, the drama ends with Swetha withdrawing the complaint.
The incident is yet another study on how we, as a society, behave when a woman decides to speak up against a man.

The actress, Swetha Menon, has won two state awards. She has done daring roles in films like 'Paleri Manikyam' and 'Rathi Nirvedam' and 'Ozhi muri'. Years ago, she'd won a beauty pageant, acted in a few Bollywood movies and appeared in a condom advertisement. In television interviews and on public forums, she has always maintained a well-composed, matured demeanour. She is frank, independent and had chosen to stay in the film field even after her marriage.

Now, when she faced a molestation in a public function, just like many women in India do everyday, her character was questioned. In social networking sites and many so-called news websites, the old condom ad surfaced. The moral-police began wondering why Swetha Menon is so shaken when an oldman tried to touch her.

Some of the websites published the news about Swetha's complaint with several 'hot' pictures of her, which they digged out from internet with lot of effort. Her husband's - the one who happily let his wife continue with her profession instead of asking her to sit at home and be a perfect Indian wife- morality was questioned in some Facebook pages.

In Kerala, there is a very famous phrase which summarises our attitude - "Like a whore's speech on morality"- which blatantly means a woman who sells her body for a living can't question a man if he rapes her/tries to rape her. This phrase was seen used in many facebook pages to emphasise that an actress who has played roles of seductress or prostitute in her films, has no right to protest when a man tries to touch her.
It is Swetha's fault if the man tried to molest her because she has acted in a condom ad and has done the role of seductress in movies."Seeing these pictures, how can one not try to molest her?", asks a malayalee on Facebook and his voice is echoed by many thousands of Malayalee macho men.

After all the protests held against rape and molestation, our society continues to believe it is the woman's fault if a man tried to rape/molest her.

The channels celebrated the news for 48 hours. They repeatedly telecasted the visuals of the function and established that the septuagenarian had in fact 'tried' once or twice to touch the actress. Discussions were held in order to decide if it is proper to file a complaint for such an insignificant matter. Actress was repeatedly asked to explain the incident in detail. And politicians from opposition parties jumped into the fray asking the septuagenarian to resign at once and face the music.

It was evident from the media responses that only a very few voices genuinely spoke for the actress and the rest were celebrating her plight. It actually shows how immature and barbaric our society is in handling a woman's issue. Is it really possible for a woman to sleep in peace after filing a complaint against a man for sexual harassment?

In this case, a devastated Swetha finally decided to put an end to the hooha and return to her peaceful life by withdrawing her complaint, accepting the politician's apology.

The hunters on Internet will now wait for their next prey and till then they will relish on 'Swetha Menon hot pics' on internet.

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