‘It’s about time India has its Me Too movement’

Team Sakal Times
Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Students and professionals speak about what they think is sexual harassment and if the Me Too movement is necessary

PUNE: What started as an interview by actress Tanushree Dutta where she restated her allegations of sexual harassment about actor Nana Patekar has given rise to a new wave of what the media is calling India’s own ‘Me Too’ movement, as women not just from the film industry, but from professions like law and media houses are coming out with their experiences of harassment at workplaces. While some of these allegations are being fought back, especially in the film industry, overall the country is applauding the courage of women for speaking out against people in power who allegedly harassed them sexually at the place of work. A few city-based students and professionals speak to Sakal Times about what they think is sexual harassment at workplace and if the Me Too movement is necessary.

Adv Vijayalaxmi Khopade
Tanushree Dutta’s recent revelations remind me of an incident which took place a few years ago wherein a senior lady bureaucrat faced sexual harassment from a senior IPS super cop. 

Vishakha Guidelines lay down work ethics with respect to sexual harassment where a clear employer-employee relation is defined. The Parliament passed The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, according to which every employer engaging more than 10 employees shall constitute a complaint committee. The District Officer is required to constitute a Internal Complaint Committee at each district and if required at the block level. The complaint committee has the powers of a civil court while collecting evidence. 

The courts where a number of female advocates are working don’t have a forum for reporting sexual violence at workplace. 

The conditions of female advocates is worse than women working as unorganised daily wage labourers.

Khaidem Nongpoknganba, General Secretary, Manipur Students’ Association, Pune
The thing that plagues most victims of sexual harassment is that they’re left alone. Women working in various sectors are coming together to share their stories. This empowers their fight against these sexual predators.

Working for the welfare of North Eastern (NE) people in Pune, I have come across cases of molestation and harassment. Some of these women chose to stand up, but mostly they are afraid to fight. Since such incidents happen in normal circumstances, the victims don’t gather evidence. 

The victims are shamed and the culprits get away. But having said that, there are cases of false accusations too. So dealing with sexual harassment and the recourse that follows is something that requires more attention than what we bystanders give. Also men, children, young boys along with women face harassment. Hence, the issue of sexual harassment and how we deal with it not just as an individual but as a society needs to be changed. We need better measures and definitely a better understanding of such cases.

Crystal Symss, Mass Media student
It’s about time India has its #metoo. The state of women’s safety in India is appalling and it’s time we stopped being quiet about it, that we stopped living in fear and stopped making excuses for the inexcusable behaviour. Sexual harassment would be any sort of physical contact or verbal slur done or said that clearly makes a woman uncomfortable or finds it offensive. 

Sinjini Bose, IT professional
I think what can be considered as sexual harassment is a big question mark because whatever an individual considers as inappropriate will be personally considered by her as harassment. 

For example, if I’m getting complimented on the way I dress every morning as I enter the office, by someone who is not on friendly terms to compliment me, I might find that as harassment. Harassment is not limited to inappropriately touching somebody, it can be verbal or even if somebody stares at you and you don’t like it then you should have the courage to come out and tell that out loud.

Sharduli Joshi, Teacher
It is necessary to talk about sexual harassment at workplaces. Sexual harassment is any gesture that makes a woman uncomfortable, may it be physical or verbal. Many friends, cousins and I have faced it in different circumstances. When I look back and feel the pain of being molested it makes me restless. 

The marks are not completely erased yet. Now whenever I am at any public place I make it a point to be at a safe distance from any man. If I sense any wrong gesture I immediately warn that person to stay away. I have decided not to tolerate this kind of act ever in my hereafter.

Speaking in New Delhi, commenting on the whole Tanushree Dutta controversy, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi said, “Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. We were the first government to start ‘SHe Box’ on social media and women who wrote to us saying they are harassed, we took action immediately.”

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