The festival ends before it starts. The Royal Swedish Academy has announced that it will not be awarding the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2018. But, is it necessary postpone the prize award? The short, but certain answer is: ‘Yes‘. Protests against women’s disgrace and discrimination are sweeping the whole world and they have also rocked the Academy. In a press release issued on May 4, the Academy admitted that a “crisis in the Swedish Academy has adversely affected the Nobel Prize. Their decision underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize”. It further admitted that an influential member of the organisation has allegedly been involved in sexual harassment of women. The academy, too, has been accused of trying to hide the scandal.
The scandal was surfaced in November, with Swedish daily ‘Dagens Nyheter’ publishing allegations surrounding French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, who was accused by 18 women (including Sweden’s crown princess Victoria) of sexual harassment and assault spanning decades. The daily reported that the concerned authorities had notified the Academy of Arnault’s behaviour in a letter in 1996. However, the Academy decided to ignore the notification. The ‘story’ has got the attention it deserves because of the rise of the #MeToo Movement. The movement has prompted Nobel literature body to grant leave to its members after the sex scandal.
The Swedish Academy in Stockholm
The Royal Academy scandal is just an instance. The “#MeToo” campaign against sexual harassment and assault has exposed widespread discrimination against women. The global community has experienced the fall of various institutions, which made an attempt to deal with crimes against women. The campaign also hit the Hollywood hard. Even some top government officials and ministers have resigned in Western countries. In Washington, the Donald Trump administration is facing difficulties in tackling the issue of sexual harassment.
Unfortunately, the Indian society still considers sexual harassment cases and protests against such harassments as ‘scandal‘. Majority of the Indians believes that public discussions on sexuality or sex-related issues are (essentially) a part of Western culture. They (mainly the conservatives) are of the opinion that politicians, political parties and government officials should avoid such discussions. In the West, top officials have no other option, but to resign in case of their alleged involvement in sexual harassment. On the contrary, the social status of the accused remains same in India even if the allegations are proven to be true.
In 1988, Rupan Deol Bajaj, a senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, became the first woman in the country to take a case of sexual harassment to the court. Her harasser was then Director General of Police (DGP – Punjab) KPS Gill. And in 1889, the government honoured Gill with the ‘Padmashree’ award (India’s fourth highest civilian honour). Later, the court found the DGP guilty. After the government’s decision to strip police officers convicted of ‘moral turpitude‘ of medals and awards in 2010, Bajaj demanded that the government take back the Padmashree award given to Gill. However, the government rejected Bajaj’s demand because (perhaps) the Indian society has certain criteria for greatness and being a respecter of the rights of their fellow beings is definitely not one of them.
Rupan Bajaj & KPS Gill
The trend is still there in India. Forty-eight Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and three Members of Parliament (MPs) of different parties are accused of serious crime, including rape and molestation. However, their parties are yet to punish them. If the Indian society wants to give women ‘justice’, then many institutions (such as family, administration, armed forces, and judiciary) will feel the heat. So, it’s better for women to accept the torture, harassment…….in India.
French philosopher Michel Foucault once said that ‘peace is another form of war’. The patriarchal society wants to maintain peace on the basis of discrimination (against women). If the women are not ready to accept this ‘condition’, then the war becomes inevitable. And in case of a war, our great ‘tradition’ will be destroyed. But, we are ready to welcome the war this time in order to ‘liberate’ the women.
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