Following the massive #MeToo movement, around 50 million Google searches on sexual harrasment, reporting and prevention of such behaviour were recorded in the US during October 2017 to June 2018, a US study suggests.
The study found that sexual harassment and assault searches were 86 per cent higher than expected from October 15 in 2017 to June 15 in 2018, reaching a record high.
An estimated 40-54 million Google searches for sexual harassment and assault were recorded in the US in the eight months after public accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein and the ensuing #MeToo movement, according to the researchers, including John W. Ayers from the University of California, San Diego.
For the study, the research team monitored the volume of Google searches originating from the US that were indicative of sexual harassment and assault awareness from January 1, 2010, through June 15, 2018.
They further monitored the subset of these searches that focused on seeking resources for reporting of sexual harassment and assault and preventive training.
The search volumes were provided as a ratio of all Google searches (per 10 million), thereby adjusting for changes in Google usage over time, suggested the study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
The team found that searches related to reporting and preventive training for sexual harassment and assault were 30 per cent higher and 51 per cent higher than predicted.
On October 15, 2017, following the public accusations of sexual harassment and assault against film producer Harvey Weinstein, actress Alyssa Milano encouraged victims to bring the taboo topic out of the shadows by sharing their own stories on social media.
#MeToo was tweeted 300,000 times the day after Milano's post and generated widespread support with scores of accusations made against media, political, and business leaders, giving voice to previously unheard victims.
In India, the #MeToo movement began this year after Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta accused actor Nana Patekar of sexual harassment.