'#MeToo emboldened women to open up about harassment'

Mallika Sherawat. AFP file photo

Actor Mallika Sherawat says the #MeToo movement has created a space for dialogue on harassment, making it difficult for such issues to be brushed under the carpet in the industry.

The actor, who had previously revealed she was dropped from projects because she refused to get intimate with co-stars off screen, said the movement has empowered women while scaring the perpetrators away.

"#MeToo has been a positive step. It's a strong movement which comes with responsibilities. But men in the industry are absolutely scared. A safe working environment is the right of every man and a woman, so this is a step in the right direction.

"We can discuss things openly. Earlier everything was hushed. Women now feel emboldened to talk about these issues. The perpetrators would now think twice before misbehaving or saying something inappropriate," Mallika told PTI.

The actor, known for films such as "Murder" and "Pyaar Ke Side Effects", said the power is still in the men's hands and a level-playing field will only be possible if more women become a part of the industry.

"How can the powerful fall when the whole industry is run by men? Women are used as pawns. How many women directors, writers and cinematographers are there? We can count on our fingertips. The game will change when more women enter the field," she said.

Part of the problem, the 42-year-old actor believes, is the victim shaming which is rampant in the society.

"It's in our culture, this victim blaming. 'Why was she out at night, why was she out with a boy?' I was shamed all the time because I did bold films. People thought they could take liberties with me.

"Even now the society thinks actresses are 'easy'. 'We won't marry her, she is an actress and has romanced men on screen.' This is the perception in our country. In this industry, it's different because new filmmakers are coming up," she added.

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