ANIKA NAYAK, 16
Anika Nayak, from Tampa, Florida, is an activist, social entrepreneur, and writer in the youth space. After being exposed to the social dynamics in her rather conservative South Asian culture, Nayak knew she had to do something about the lack of awareness and diversity. This motivated her to pursue journalism with The Activist Express, a social initiative designed to combat social injustices and promote diversity. She believes that if we do not speak the truth, we are not able to spark meaningful change. Nayak utilizes the power of journalism to amplify the voices of people from historically marginalized communities. Through education, awareness, and connectivity, her articles provide inimitable perspectives on defying traditional societal stigmas.
Nayak strongly believes that today’s youth are the driving force behind social change. Through various community engagement initiatives, she shares valuable resources and cultivates insightful conversations among youth in the activism space. Nayak organized and co-lead the Tampa Climate Strike, a movement of youth advocating for better climate change policies and environmental preservation. She continues to raise awareness around her community by mobilizing local students to take action through grassroots advocacy in support of the Green New Deal.
Nayak hopes to study social entrepreneurship at a research-based university known for its emphasis on business and social justice. Ultimately, she hopes to utilize her experiences as a writer and activist to develop innovative solutions to eliminating environmental degradation and promoting agricultural sustainability.
#MeToo: How This Movement is Finally Rising in India
by: Anika Nayak
How the #MeToo movement is sweeping into India
The #Metoo movement has swept into India, where more, more than ever before, women are coming out about their sexual assault experiences. Tanushree Dutta, the recipient of Femina Miss India Universe in 2004, sparked the movement when she accused actor Nana Patekar of sexually harassing her on the sets of Horn Ok Pleassss in 2008.
Dutta’s allegation against Patekar sparked discussion among other celebrities in the Bollywood Film Industry. She has gained the support of many actors and actresses such as Varun Dhawan, Sonam Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut, and Swara Bhaskar. Additionally, many other celebrities also gained support to narrate their sexual harassment experiences on social media.
In a recent interview with Times, actress Rashi Mal shared her opinion on the #MeToo movement, “I think it is about time the movement came to India. The first time around I did not see any names; although, it did highlight the magnitude and scale of the problem. But what is happening now will definitely help purge the system and make it safer for girls to work in. We have all been subjected to stuff like this in one way or another. It takes great courage to speak up and I greatly admire all those who are standing up against abuse and harassment.”
Furthermore, Indians gained inspiration from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in America, who testified against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a man who sexually assaulted her in high school. Dr. Ford had the courage to narrate her assault experience and speak against her perpetrator, who unfortunately went on to become one of the most powerful men in America.
How Indian Corporations are taking action
Multiple women in journalism have posed allegations on male editors and reporters due to cases of rape and sexual assault. Prashant Jha, an editor for The Hindustan Times, lost his job due to a former reporter’s complaint where she accused him of sexual assault. Similarly, at least four women have accused KR Sreenivas of sending inappropriate messages, mentally abusing them, and touching them inappropriately. Initially, he was put on leave because of the ongoing investigation but then eventually resigned.
More and more companies are taking action to punish those who have sexually assaulted or harassed others. Due to the increase in awareness, Indian Institutions are working to establish a “no toleration” zone. Although there are laws preventing sexual harassment at work, those have not been enforced. The #MeToo movement is spreading awareness of this issue.
The traditional Indian patriarchal society is changing and more awareness is spreading. Women’s voices are being heard. Additionally, these discussions are sparking questions to gender equality and discrimination issues. Even though there is still a lot of work to spread this movement all over India, change is coming, and it’s happening fast.