The Kiss Of Love (KOL) Campaign was a Social Media Campaign that rose to fame with a huge support primarily to protest against the Moral Policing incidents that happened in Kerala my home state in India. Moral Policing has always been an issue in Kerala and often referenced in books and movies as well where the so called ‘gentlemen’ Voice on the degradation a public act of affection creates to the society but at the same time leave all morals outside the closed doors they enter. This kind of Moral Policing in Kerala had been hailed and promoted by people of all parties because there was a twisted understanding of what Morality in itself was.
The past few days was quite a ruckus on Social Media because the two main people of the KOL movement Rahula Pasupalan and Rashmi Nair, husband and wife were arrested for running/involving in a Sex Racket. Investigation is underway. I have been a supporter of that movement and even now do for the fact that Moral policing is something that should be voiced against. Moral Policing, before it hits the streets it hits the family and home with men putting the rules on how women should dress, behave, talk and act. For the Feminist in me any act that causes gender discrimination and curtails the freedom of women is a total NO. That being said when the duo (as they have been accused of) use the KOL movement as a cover for their activities it is hurtful. But like any movement, if just two people can break a movement then it is not strong enough. And I feel KOL is much relevant than that.
How do movements happen? People come together on what they think alike on and believe and Voice their opinion and more people Join and it moves on. It is also a fact that most of the people who involve in such non political movements are not personally known to each other. They do not belong to a sect, religion or group, but come together because there is a cause they are addressing. No one is responsible for the other person’s moral standing on issues outside the cause. Here the Cause was against Moral Policing. For me even if the media finds things to slander more people involved in KOL, my stand against Moral Policing and KOL movement will not change and that is because I know some people I very personally know and respect their stands and who have been actively involved in the movement. For me KOL or voicing against Moral Policing is not a social media act.
For me KOL is not about obscenity in public as many against it would like to argue especially in the light of this news. That argument in my opinion is the oldest way the opposition slanders any movement that speaks against the dictates of a society that infringe on basic rights and freedom. Not everyone will agree on the manner of protest that was kissing and showing affection in public but what people fail to understand is that what Rahul and Rashmi have been booked for is not for what they did with the doors open but with their doors closed and there is a big difference in that. Equating their actions to KOL movement is not logically correct.
Here is how it works for me; If we both agree on an issue that we are ready to take fearlessly head on in the public, that does not mean you tell me every private fact of your life. I respect your reason to hold that private. But I will speak in public in the same vigorous and fearless way if I find what you do in private impacts the world we live. It does not have to be something Rahul and Rashmi have been arrested for, anything… I join hands with you in public accepting and trusting that you do keep the same Moral standing as an individual in your free private time irrespective of whether I am privy to it or not. That is the maturity in which I connect with you. So for me the Kiss Of Love movement as I see it is not a Rahul-Rashmi movement or any other individuals movement.
Now coming to another fact here and that is this whole thing surfaced after another FB group brought to light the operation of an underage sex site on FB that lead to the raid and so on. So Social Media itself can be a way to fight back against what happens on Social Media.
What media and those who support or defend Kiss Of Love movement and those who oppose it and use the Rahul-Rashmi incident to badmouth everything that the KOL did, should understand that the biggest issue you should worry is about Social Media being a place where predators prey. We are in 2015 and many would have forgotten and some who are in KOL might not even have born when the historic lawsuit came when Barry Crimmins took AOL head on for being complacent against pedophiles preying on the old fashioned chat rooms in early nineties when internet just started being popular for public. One of the interesting things the AOL General Counsel said during that senate hearing was that ‘we give them a three strike approach to stop’ to which Barry said ‘Child sex abuse is not something that should be give three strikes and it should be just one strike and gone; it should be a zero tolerance policy’ Social Media is different from old AOL days but criminals find new ways and it is for us to ensure we fight it out. A zero Tolerance policy. For me the fight against Child abuse is more important than Kiss Of Love and so if you want to talk about KOL talk against Child abuse first.
I have not been abused as a kid, but I have known people and have heard from people on what that does to them. I consider myself among those privileged who did not have an uncle or aunt or elder person close to whom I trust sneak into my bed when I was a kid and do things so awful that it leaves a scar for a lifetime. I was privileged to not have been abused and it becomes my responsibility to voice, speak and write for those who have been less fortunate. The problem with much of the media stuff is we forget the real problem. Child sex abuse is and was a problem much before KOL or Social Media and so that should be addressed more importantly.
I do not need to defend Rahul or Rashmi or Kiss Of Love movement for that matter, what I need is to voice for those small kids who lay their trust and life on adults in there life and be betrayed. As I heard Barry say in an interview you cannot ignore that eyes of the kids as an adult takes away every element of life from them. That is unacceptable.. That is unacceptable.. Our kids are safe from chatrooms because of crusades that people like Barry took up. Barry was abused as a child and his crusade was probably the most painful thing for him as over that period he had to come face to face again with the torments he had gone through. And that is where the responsibility lies for people like me who have not been abused as a child. We hold a moral responsibility to fight it because for someone who has gone through it even the fight against it is painful and unimaginable.