When Men of God come under #MeToo scanner

[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ight-wing activist Rahul Easwar’s flair for manufacturing headlines isn’t unknown to anybody. This time, however, he has been assaulted by the kind of news he might not have been expecting. The latest public figure to be accused in the #MeToo campaign, a social media activist named Inji Pennu has alleged that Easwar had indulged in sexual misconduct with an unnamed well-known artist when she was 18.

Those who view Easwar as their ideological inspiration will be shell-shocked after this revelation. This, despite the fact that new #MeToo stories are tumbling out of the closet every day. Men at the receiving end are being compelled to resign or apologise, while a few filing defamation suits are being lambasted in the social media. Politics, entertainment, media, arts and culture, academia: male perpetrators of sexual harassment appear to be lurking everywhere. And, victims too.

But, Easwar isn’t one of those typical men who have misused their professional clout to make life miserable for women. Not long ago, he was in the news after sharing his photographs with Hadiya and releasing love jihad tapes. At the moment, he is the most visible face in the ongoing protests against the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 into the famed Sabarimala temple for the first time ever. For the belligerent defenders of tradition, he is the man of the moment.

Hailing from the family of Sabarimala priests and the president of Ayyappa Dharma Sena, he has adopted an aggressive posture and denounced the Supreme Court judgment overturning the ban on the entry of women of menstruating age. Defiant and willing to take on the establishment, he has even said that there is a plan in place to force the temple’s closure in case women manage to reach the temple.

For the protestors, Easwar has been a valiant fighter concerned with protecting the sanctity of the temple. He is a man of God.

How will they respond after the allegations of sexual harassment, which follow a pattern that’s similar to several #MeToo stories?

The unnamed victim has stated that Easwar had invited her to his flat while saying his mother was also there. When she reached his flat, she realised that that wasn’t true. Easwar, she said, put on soft porn and tried to kiss her multiple times. Eventually, she managed to overcome her fear and escaped. It’s a shocking story.

After this revelation, Easwar will inevitably find himself at the centre of a political war of words. The protestors, in the meantime, must try to find a God in somebody else.