Is #MeToo a West-only movement?

Mona Eltahawy, Ranjana Kumari and Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah debate the global effect of the anti sexual harassment campaign.

In 2006, the slogan #MeToo started as a movement by American activist Tarana Burke as a way to show solidarity with victims of sexual assault.

That slogan went viral overnight in the wake of Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein scandal last October, which prompted women around the world to break a lot of the silence around sexual assault and harassment and began to share their stories, with more than 12 million posts on Facebook in just 24 hours.

Since then, the hashtag has been shared in at least 85 countries around the world.

So why has this particular campaign proved to be so powerful? And how has it been received outside of the West?

“What I tend to see is that the focus of #MeToo is focused more on … more privileged white women in Hollywood, more privileged white women in North America without really acknowledging the kind of community-led efforts that have been going on for decades to end violence against women,” said Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, a Ghanaian writer and director of Communications for the NGO, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development.

Mona Eltahawy, a journalist based between Cairo and New York and author of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, said, “I think this is a really invaluable moment where we have an opportunity as a global community, not just in our individual community spaces to say, look, this is about patriarchy.”

The #MeToo movement “has to come down to the level of a village woman who is working in somebody’s farms in the field. [It] has to come down to a labour woman who is trying to work in the construction industry or building the road, and being exploited by the contractor,” said Ranjana Kumari, women’s rights activist and director of the Centre for Social Research in New Delhi.

In this UpFront special, Ranjana Kumari, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah and Mona Eltahawy discuss whether the #MeToo movement is a revolutionary moment and where it needs to go next in order to have an effect beyond Hollywood and the West.

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