The verdict serves as a warning to sexual predators that they aren’t above the law; they can’t get away
How the mighty have fallen and what a victory it has been for the #MeToo movement. The once influential and now disgraced Hollywood film producer, Harvey Weinstein, has been found guilty of rape and sexual assault and will now spend 23 years in prison after the New York Supreme Court held him accountable for committing a criminal sexual act in the first degree and third-degree rape. This verdict should serve as a warning to all predators that they are not above the law; they can’t just get away with it. Hopefully, it will lead to deterrence in workspaces around the world and stricter gender justice codes. Of course, this is not the last we are hearing of it because the sentence only ends Weinstein’s New York trial, which began on January 6. He is yet to face other rape and sexual assault charges in Los Angeles. For his conviction on the first-degree count of criminal sexual act, Weinstein was given 20 years in prison plus five years of supervised release. On the other convicted charge, third-degree rape, he was given three years in prison. The judge decided to make the sentences consecutive, rather than concurrent, to prolong his pain. To add to the movie mogul’s well-deserved shame, the court will also formally register him as a sex offender. The legacy that the 67-year-old hot-shot film-maker would have liked to leave behind was a repertoire of well-made movies that would be viewed and appreciated for all times to come. Instead, Weinstein’s will be a lifetime of shame that he and his family, which has since then left him alone, will have to face due to the verdict. His legacy is now clouded by abuse, harassment, rape and intimidation of over 100 hapless women and the lifelong scars and trauma they had to live with after he sexually assaulted them.
One hopes that this verdict brings a sense of justice and closure to his victims and gives other women around the world, who are facing abuse — at home, work or elsewhere — the courage to call out their tormentors. It has reassured women that they are not to be blamed for their condition. It was not their “ambition”, “dress”, “make-up”, “location” or “that hour of the night”, which was responsible for their plight but sexual predators like Weinstein, who must be held responsible for their actions. That it was this global calling out that got the producer such a major sentence is something even his lawyers have admitted to. If anything, the Indian criminal justice system must take a few lessons from the Weinstein episode: How to expedite such cases, convict criminals speedily and not let the case drag on for years. The Nirbhaya case is yet to be closed as the convicts are trying every trick on the rule book to defer their hanging. Culprits must not be given the liberty to make a mockery of the legal system and exploit every lacunae to subvert justice. We also need to learn not to let power and money influence the way the case goes, not to indulge in victim shaming and instead put the perpetrator on trial, not the victim.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)