Celebrating #MeToo’s Global Impact
Time：2019-03-14 / Popularity： / From：Foreign Policy
First launched by the activist Tarana Burke in the United States a decade ago, the Me Too movement has now reached nearly every region of the world; the phrase itself, and the viral hashtag #MeToo, is in regular rotation in more than 85 nations. Comparable local campaigns exist in dozens more. Women who previously endured abuse, harassment, and discrimination in silence have raised their voices en masse, collaborating across borders to demand reform.
But for all that momentum, an Economist survey shows that skepticism of harassment claims has grown. And though a rising number of female candidates have run for political office in countries globally, women remain dramatically underrepresented at the highest levels. It’s all too easy to despair.
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Fear not. A fundamental shift in women’s rights is underway. The #MeToo movement continues to achieve widespread—and tangible—progress on a global scale. Its influence can be measured in the courts, in changing legislation, and, paradoxically, in the growing backlash.
Take the story of Khadija Siddiqi, a law student in Pakistan who was stabbed 23 times in 2016 by a fellow classmate after spurning his advances. Her well-connected attacker was later acquitted by a court system that routinely excuses perpetrators of violence against women. But Khadija refused to remain silent—and more than 2 million supporters used the hashtag #JusticeforKhadija to champion her case on social media, ultimately helping her win her appeal. “Today is a day of victory for all women,” she defiantly told reporters in January from the steps of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, after more than two years of fighting. “A precedent has been set that if you raise your voice for truth, you will taste victory.”
Alhumdulilah!! Historic verdict. All shackles broken. Justice prevails, truth triumphs over falsehood!
— khadija siddiqi (@khadeeeej751) January 23, 2019
Much like Khadija, women around the world are defying critics of the #MeToo movement and, armed with little more than social media campaigns and raw determination, joining in a rising call for justice. And like Khadija, more than ever before, they are winning.
Initial #MeToo accusations led to an avalanche of global resignations and oustings across the private and public sectors. As legal cases now wind their way through the court system, the rapid-fire pace of news has slowed, which some critics interpret as a sign of failure.
But in recent months, courts around the world have handed down sentences that definitively reinforce the cultural shifts driven by the #MeToo movement. In South Korea, Sweden, and Egypt, the landmark cases that first sparked a reckoning on sexual violence in these countries have all handed victories to the accusers.
In South Korea, the burgeoning #MeToo movement began with a televised interview of the lawyer Seo Ji-hyun, who took the unprecedented step of publicly accusing her former boss, the senior prosecutor Ahn Tae-geun, of sexual misconduct. Her courage inspired hundreds of others to step forward, leading to the sudden resignation of several Korean sports figures, literary elites, and politicians. This January, both Ahn and the actor Lee Myung-haeng—one of the first accused of harassment in South Korea’s entertainment sector—received prison sentences of two years and eight months, respectively. In another victory in February, former presidential hopeful Ahn Hee-jung—initially acquitted by a lower court on charges of sexual abuse—was sent to prison for three and a half years on appeal.
The #MeToo movement in Sweden ignited following the high-profile case of Jean-Claude Arnault, which led to the cancellation of the 2018 Nobel Prize in literature. After the first accusation against Arnault, 18 women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct that had taken place over a period of 20 years. In October, he was found guilty of rape and sentenced to two years in prison. When he contested the decision in December, the appeals court actually increased his sentence.
And in Egypt, a viral video of Rania Fahmy, a young woman fighting back against her attacker, not only started a regional conversation on sexual harassment but also set a new legal precedent for all Egyptian women. Fahmy’s defiance—and deft use of her handbag to ward off her attacker—was captured by a store security camera in August 2017. She filed charges using the footage as evidence and, despite attempts to bribe her to drop the case, in February became one of the very first Egyptian women to win a court ruling on sexual harassment charges.
Rania Fahmy from Egypt.
Don't forget the name. A hero of our time.
She not only gave this pervert a beating, but she has just achieved the rarest of rare results when it comes to sexual harassment: victory in court and a jail sentence for the scumbag. What a shot!
Author：MEIGHAN STONE, RACHE