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India shines bright for the wrong reasons on Google's interactive map on #MeToo movement

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open,” American poet and activist Muriel Rukeyser had penned in 1968.

Five decades later, the #MeToo movement has given women the world over a platform to share their experiences with sexual harassment and come out in solidarity with survivors. Google has traced this campaign and the online trend around it in the form of an interactive timeline represented by a globe.

In an effort to showcase the impact of the #MeToo movement — coined by activist Tarana Burke in 2006 — Google, in April 2018, mapped the search results for the term, which led to the spread of the hashtag on social media and made the movement viral from October 2017.

Google created Me Too Rising, the 3D visualisation of search trends surrounding the movement, in recognition of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In light of #MeTooIndia gaining ground, India can be seen lit up on the map, brighter than any other country on the globe, albeit for the wrong reasons.

The #MeToo movement picked up in India following actor Tanushree Dutta's allegations against co-star Nana Patekar. Dutta speaking up about her experience with Patekar on the sets of Horn OK Pleasss led to a social awakening in India and subsequent exposure of a number of powerful names in the Indian media and entertainment industries as sexual predators and abusers.

On navigating the spinning globe in Google's map, data points light up to represent the locations where most people are searching for 'Me Too' at any given time. Google then throws up the link to the most read stories on #MeToo providing context for the reason of the term trending on that particular day, in that particular city. For instance, Rewari city in the Indian state of Haryana is on the top trends map for August 2018, as it was then in the news for the gangrape of a student and the outrage that followed.

Similarly, in October 2017, when The New York Times and The New Yorker published their Pulitzer Prize-winning investigations into Harvey Weinstein's misconduct and sexual harassment of several Hollywood actresses over a decade, North America can be seen glowing on the globe. The Weinstein revelations were also a defining moment for the #MeToo movement, and as can be seen on the virtual globe, the discussions and trends had risen significantly then across the world.

However, the scope of the virtual visualisation is not limited to this specific movement; it has included points of discussions on other women-centric issues, as well. Moreover, there is also a separate link for sexual assault resources that women can access and use to reach out for help, in case they want to report any instance of harassment or abuse, and to deal with the mental trauma surrounding it.

Google had announced that "to make it easier for survivors to find support, Google.org will provide $5,00,000 in grants to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network and Girls for Gender Equity", and the same can be accessed online by women in the US and abroad for reporting sexual misconduct".

"The #MeToo movement has inspired growing, worldwide awareness of sexual violence and sexual assault. This is not only a significant moment in history; it’s a significant moment in internet history: #MeToo marks a time when sexual assault survivors everywhere turned the internet into a platform for their voices and perspectives to be heard and respected," Google's public policy and government relations senior counsel, Malika Saada Saar, while launching the site in April, had said on the product blog.

Saar had concluded her post, saying, "Me Too Rising shows what it looks like when we all become a little more aware of sexual assault and violence. When enough survivors speak up, the world not only listens; it searches for answers."

Social media users have reacted positively to the feature, with many lauding the tech giant for highlighting such a crucial gender movement,  which also aims to change the power dynamics between males and females by exposing the abuse of power and position by influential men for sexually harassing the women around them, thus giving significance to each such voice that matters.

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Updated Date: Oct 15, 2018 16:27:43 IST

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