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Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation shows how far the #metoo movement still has to go

Despite protests by thousands against his appointment, Mr. Brett Kavanaugh appears set to be confirmed to the American Supreme Court with undecided Republican Senators announcing to vote ‘yes’. But the imbroglio involving Kavanaugh and his accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has added one more pebble to the well, raising the water level a tad higher for women in the struggle against sexual exploitation. It’s a shot in the arm for the Me Too campaign, even if Kavanaugh is nominated.

It is an emotive issue, an explosive one, in which almost every positive has a negative, but in the end, it is a winner because it empowers women to speak out against sexual exploitation.

Sexual exploitation is nothing new. It takes place in every society to a lesser or greater extent. It is probably women’s physical frailty that causes it. That, and the fact that with countless exceptions, men appear to be ego-bound for which nurture and not nature is at fault. What makes a difference in this battle – as in others, are justice and the law.

It makes you cringe when a potential judge of the Supreme Court is accused of sexual aggression, not for the first time either. Any judgement given by such a man, unless the accusation against him is proven wrong, would always be suspect.

It makes you cringe when a potential judge of the Supreme Court is accused of sexual aggression, not for the first time either. Any judgement given by such a man, unless the accusation against him is proven wrong, would always be suspect.

Women who accuse men of sexual exploitation are almost always accused of being attention seeking.

In the case of Dr. Ford, this does not smack true. Mr. Kavanaugh has served as a judge for the US Court of Appeal for the DC Circuit since 2003, to which position he was nominated by President Bush, Jr. Dr. Ford had time to accuse him then, but she did not, even though she did not know if she would get another chance. The Supreme Court appointment appears to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Yet all things taken into account there is no way to prove either the accusation or the rebuttal. Yes, Kavanaugh’s ranting rebuttal of the accusation was enough to set up most people’s back, that and the fact that he is Trump’s nominee. The indecent manner in which he was defended by Trump also works against him. And yes Dr. Ford’s clean record and a testimony that appeared extremely genuine gains support.

But these are all subjective reactions. There is no proof, and that is what is most required for justice. That’s the damning thing.

Issam Ahmed in his well-written report for AFP has presented different views held by participants at the recent rally against Mr. Kavanaugh in DC. Among these was a Ms. Robinson who does not believe Dr. Ford. She says, “I have a son and a daughter. I wouldn’t want my son treated like Kavanaugh, and I wouldn’t want my daughter saying that somebody assaulted her and not have any evidence of the fact.”

I couldn’t agree more with that last bit. No one who has children would wish something like this to happen to them.

But Ms. Robinson appears to have missed a crucial point, that had someone really assaulted her daughter, Ms. Robinson would be the first to want her daughter to have the ability to bring the incident to light.

Also, that if Mr. Kavanaugh has really committed the acts he is accused of, is he the best person for the job of a supreme court judge? What price justice in a country where such persons dispense it?

The American constitution does not place any criteria upon the appointment of a supreme court judge, which is at the discretion of the President and the support of the senate. For those who argue that there ought to be stipulations there is the example of ‘sadiq and ameen’ in Pakistan, which is about the most misused stipulation in existence.

Such cases are important for Pakistan where sexual aggression is probably more common than in many countries, where women are muzzled by society and prevented from speaking up, and men get away with anything.

At the same time one would hope that one’s judge would be free of such accusations.

At the same time yet again, how easy is it to discredit a person by making such accusations against him or her? How many instances can we enumerate in politics and in social interaction when persons have been wrongly accused?

A crucial question is: should an accusation if it is unproven – or unprovable, be taken into consideration?

Without a doubt, accusations destroy lives. Yet all accusations must be taken into consideration and investigated. The FBI in Kavanaugh’s case has been accused of making a poor investigation.

The second question follows that while it is unproven, should such accusations be made public?

A proven accusation must be made public. But in the case of Kavanaugh vs. Ford, whether you believe this side or the other is a subjective matter, and there is no chance of an objective ruling. It would have been better to keep the issue quieter than it has been until proof is obtained. But that is easier said than done, and in this case almost impossible. Yet you wish that the media were less vociferous. But then if the media is restrained too much it creates a situation we are familiar with. And the issue would not be brought to public attention. It’s a tough one.

So really, the best thing about this incident is that women seem to be on the way to being able to speak out, which is a major win and a great thing. That, and the fact that the Me Too movement into which this case slots has started a crucial debate about what is appropriate and what is not, what can be done about it, and shown how sexual exploiters are brought down. It’s an immense deterrent and a debate that was long overdue.

Such cases are important for Pakistan where sexual aggression is probably more common than in many countries, where women are muzzled by society and prevented from speaking up, and men get away with anything. “Log kia kahain gay” what will people say, “tumhari shadi nahi hogi” you will never get married, “khandan ka mun kala ho jai ga” the family will be disgraced – such sentiments are part of the social psyche. Here, if accusations without evidence are given official credence, something they already possess to a great extent unfortunately, it is mindboggling to think of the injustice that will result.

At present Pakistan is not the best place for a woman to live. Check the polls. The only way to help women is to bring the law more into line with women’s needs so that justice can be done. It would truly be a great thing if women feel empowered to speak up. But unless they are supported by more stringent means, relevant education in schools and homes, and greater punishment for proven aggressors or those who give false evidence, none of these measures may lead very far.