#MeinBhi Is It Better Late Than Never?

A look on the developments in the campaign against human rights violation, the crticism it has drawn from twitter trolls and the scope and need of it

I dentification is a strong social tool. From arts to fashion, expectators and enthusiasts are bombarded with inspired pieces all the time. These range from modified versions to blatant copies of the original idea. A similar example one has come across is in the form of social movements against bias, inequality and harassment. The #MeinBhi initiative was taken by PR mogul Frieha Altaf after the most unfortunate Zainab’s rape and murder case came to light following which many celebrities, the likes of which include Nadia Jamil, found the courage to come forward with their own experiences of child abuse. Like the ritual of victim shaming goes, they were at the receiving end of criticisms like, why talk about it so late? The said initiative, therefore, aims at promoting unity among the masses about child abuse, asking them to talk about the issue and let the survivors know that you are with them.

Understandably, a big part of civilians, who have become desensitised by being made to experience all sorts of social evil on a regular basis, is more than dubious and unreceptive of the endeavour. The fact that #MeinBhi is a literal translation of #MeToo doesn’t help matters much either. The latter being a global campaign launched by actress Alyssa Milano against female sexual harassment after the infamous Harvey Weinstein scandal came to light. Though it aims to tackle a variety of human rights issues such as child abuse, sexual harassment, child marriage, gender discrimination and so on, and regardless of the intention behind such an initiative being pure, such efforts are bound to attract a certain level of cynicism when they emerge only after a debate starts globally, more often than not by a celebrity, or following a tragic incident that shakes humanity all over the world. It’s high time that celebrities realise the power they hold over the masses, to influence, inspire and motivate them, identify with them and to be the agents of change. We could benefit more if everyone realised their social responsibilities and used their status to talk about societal menaces around us and make efforts to counter them all year around, instead of it being just a PR stunt near the release of their movie, or just a chance to fit in with a global movement.

It’s rather unfortunate that #MeinBhi had to wait this long and invite pointless comments from trolls online. But one wonders if they might just be justified in some cases? Much like the promotion of #TimesUp campaign (against sexual harassment in Hollywood) at the Golden Globes this year, #MeinBhi was highlighted at the LSA with an opening performance by Ahsan Khan and Amna Ilyas, and the grand finale featuring 36 performers with a 40-piece orchestra that performed Shehzad Roy’s Kya Darta Hai which has also been selected as the official anthem of #MeinBhi to be used by several NGOs. The former was able to raise USD 20 million to help support victims of sexual harassment who do not have the means to pay the legal fee, while the latter was recently honoured in Islamabad in February, where PKR1 million was raised for Sahil, an NGO working against child abuse. But realistically speaking, could #MeinBhi come remotely close to the success #MeToo has received when little else is being done but talk about the need to address human rights violation? In fact, it was revealed that the artistes did not charge any sum for the performances at LSA. While this could be counted as a gesture of goodwill, it fails the purpose – one, it doesn’t achieve much in the way of the cause at hand, two, it’s not fair to expect artistes to give up their payment, this is, after all, their livelihood.

It’s evident that #MeinBhi needs a more impactful campaign, one that draws in people from all across the country, regardless of their age, gender, and social stature, and that actually serves the purpose of creating change at the grass root level to combat social evils like human rights violation.