#MeToo in India: 9 Out of 10 Complaints of Sexual Harassment Are True, Why it’s Difficult to Frame False Cases

Sandhya Raghavan
He says he is overwhelmed by the support from the industry after he shared that designer Vijay Arora tried to touch him inappropriately, and resisting that resulted in a loss of job.

Ever since the first #MeToo allegations of sexual harassment started emerging in India, detractors were already ready with accusations that the women were lying. They saw it as a movement by women to target influential men and settle personal scores. Others saw it as an opportunity for out-of-work actresses to blaze back into the limelight.

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It’s true that the #MeToo Movement isn’t perfect. In the absence of tangible proof, these complaints look like mere accusations and nothing more. Men’s rights movement has also been gaining momentum in India in recent years. False sexual harassment cases are the centre point. Activists claim that men become sitting ducks because a woman’s word is taken more seriously in the case of sexual harassment allegations. They bring up the Rohtak sisters and the Jasleen Kaur-Saravjeet Singh case to bolster their claims. Why Women Don't Speak Up Earlier? Here's Why.

But in an analysis by The Times of India, the National Crime Report Bureau (NCRB) statistics reveal a different story. They show that there have been instances of false allegations, but their numbers are quite minuscule. In other words, there are more proven cases of sexual harassment than false cases. #MeToo in India During Navratri Is Just What Maa Durga Would Be Proud Of. 

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The report presents NCRB statistics from three different years – 2014, 2015 and 2016. There were 19,633 cases of sexual assaults in 2014 where only 766 were false. In 2015, 1011 were fake out of 21,825 cases. And in 2016, out of the 26, 430 cases, 1053 were false. The average percent of false cases in the three years is 4.1 percent. India's #MeToo Movement Shines on Google Trends: Watch This Interactive Global Map With Live Searches.

To put things into perspective, a whopping 99 percent cases of sexual assaults go unreported National Family Health Survey (NFHS). So the actual numbers of sexual assaults could be much more.

Why Framing Someone Falsely For Sexual Assault is Difficult

There is an impassioned backlash against the #MeToo movement and the countless allegations of conspiracy against the women who come out. Despite tangible proof of the assault and multiple women corroborating each other’s stories, they are still branded as opportunists and liars. It makes more sense to not report a crime than the other way round.

Men’s rights activists often quote data by the Delhi Commission of Women that 53.2 percent of the rape cases filed between 2013 and 2014 are false. They conveniently ignore that it also includes cases that have been settled out of court. There are many reasons for that.

People tend to think that it is easy to fire an allegation against a powerful person. But that’s not the case. The nuns who took on the Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal were threatened and intimidated. The death of Father Kuriakose, who was vocal in his support for the nuns, was found dead under mysterious circumstances today. He had reported of threats in the past.

It’s a messy affair for any woman, who will have her personal life splayed out for the world to see and pick apart. Everything from her clothes to relationships will be judged. She will be slut-shamed. The News Minute reported how the Tamil Nadu media fraternity heckled singer Chinmayi Sripada and others from the Tamil film industry who came out against lyricist Vairamuthu and others during a press meet. The singer beseeched the raucous crowd with folded palms to be “a little sensitive.”

Any woman who has dealt with the law enforcement of the country for sexual assault cases will tell you how insensitive the police are. The cross-questioning women are subjected to is dehumanising.

In the end, the “publicity” that she allegedly gains will be miniscule compared to the backlash she receives.