feminism · Indian Woman's Musings · Opinionated

The Curious Case Of “Sexual Harassment At The Workplace” – Featuring Arunabh Kumar

Don’t be baffled by the title. I agree it’s going to be another feminist rant about how men make women feel like they don’t belong in the workplace. But you know what?

IT’S TRUE.

Turns out it’s the 21st century and women still don’t feel safe at the workplace. A little birdie spread a rumour about sexual harassment at Uber’s office recently and that seems to have sparked off a series of news about this damning thing. I mean, how can literate men, fathers of little children, or even those in the corporate world for a sane number of years think of women as commodities who have to be cherry-picked for their preference at the workplace?

Turns out, it’s very much a thing of the present.

Before you get into a rant about how women are misusing their “privilege” to make innocent men fall into their trap, framing wrong allegations against them, let me get one point straight. Sexual harassment at the workplace – even if it’s a false allegation – has to be taken seriously. You can’t let a wrong-doer – male or female – pass by without giving justice to the one who has been affected.

Which brings me back to the topic again.

I wasn’t very horrified to read a particular Uber employee’s experience with her boss. He told her during a meeting when she disagreed with him – you’re here not because of your brains, but your looks. So shut up.

I don’t fail to understand anymore how a woman who looks pretty can even be considered worthwhile enough to work in an office space.

I mean, if she walks into the office in sneakers, you tell her to wear heels to accentuate her ass, right? She’s your property, isn’t she?

For the longest time, I have gone on feminist rants, talking about how women don’t deserve things, for it is their right as they are equal to men. But turns out I am just another feminist who’s banging her head against the wall. Writing blogs about topics instead of doing anything about it on ground.

Ahh, well. If chastising me gets your chauvinistic ass some peace, then so let be.

Lets talk about the day for a change. Today, I woke up like it was no other day. Accepting the fact that I was living in a patriarchal society. I opened the newspaper, hoping to read something decent about international politics to brighten up my day. Turns out, I, like many other privileged, literate, empowered women had to turn the pages of the newspaper only to read about TVF founder Arunabh Kumar’s attempt to sexually harass a female colleague.

Ahh, well. Another one bites the dust.

tvf-arunabh_759.jpg
Source: Indian Express

I am not saying he’s guilty, hell no. I don’t know what transpired between Arunabh and that particular lady in question (Indian Fowler, was she?). I was intrigued to see The Viral Fever’s response to the allegation. Take a look:

This is an official response from TVF on the anonymous article published on Medium by the Indian Fowler. The article is completely ludicrous and defamatory against TVF and its team.
 
All the allegations made against TVF and its team in the article are categorically false, baseless and unverified. We take a lot of pride in our team and in making TVF a safe workplace that is equally comfortable for women and men.
 
We will leave no stone unturned to find the author of the article and bring them to severe justice for making such false allegations.
 
It is our humble request that you do not to share an unsubstantiated, unverified and anonymous article such as this. We would like to thank all our fans and friends for their continued support.

Umm. Umm. WHAT?

I understand TVF is angry, but issue an open threat? How much desperate are you to save your founder rather than the brand?

As I understand, in the event of a sexual harassment allegation, the concerned company needs to immediately call a Vishakha committee to investigate the allegation. In fact, the company needs to have a sexual harassment redressal cell within the company so that these issues don’t come into the public forum and get resolved within the workplace.

Turns out that doesn’t happen and Indians still live in that archaic world where they believe that women have to sit at home, cook food for their husbands and be the prey of petty men who just feel entitled to prey on women. Because. It’s just so fucking normal. If women do come to work, they need to be stalked, harassed and asked for sexual favours for no woman should be doing a “man’s job”, I guess.

Again, I am digressing. Let us take a look at the allegations heaped on Arunabh –

He got drunk and tried to fall on the woman

Made ‘lewd’ advances

Told her he bought her from a red-light district

Even if these allegations are false, what we need to understand is that these things happen. Many women leave their jobs because of such people. They are forced to face these things on a daily basis on many occasions just because they want to earn their living. If they get too friendly with a man at the workplace or have a boyfriend, they are viewed as promiscuous. For which woman who has a brain and an opinion will not be “sleeping around” with everyone in sight?

If Arunabh is innocent, then the case of false sexual harassment will come to the surface. If he isn’t, then the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace needs to be tackled.

Indian companies like TVF are young, vibrant and attractive for young people. But today, if one company doesn’t take a stand, tomorrow thousands of women and men will stop/fear coming to the workplace for fear of injustice being meted out to them.

And like any other day, I have gone on a feminist rant, for my disillusion with the world around me has gone to the next level.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

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Indian Woman's Musings · Life in India · Opinionated

Why I can’t sleep after seeing India’s daughter

On 16th December, 2012, a final year Physiotherapy student was brutally raped in New Delhi. Brutally. The rapists not only gang- raped her, one of them also inserted an iron rod into her vagina, pulling out her intestines. They threw her body out onto the street, but she still survived. She battled for her life for 13 days, finally dying and saying these last words to her mother, “I am sorry.”

Am I angry? Yes. Have those who raped her been brought to justice?? No. The world hasn’t allowed India to forget this incident. Indians have a very short memory, scandals are scandals for a month, and then disappear into oblivion. But this time, people didn’t forget. They got out onto the streets, and the whole issue became a criticism of Indian society’s outlook towards women. I have grown up being told that I shouldn’t travel alone at night. Why? Because there is a possibility that I might get raped!

I remember talking to a friend about molestation one day and she told me how her experience of molestation made her feel so violated, even taking a shower couldn’t wash away the feeling of disgust. I just tried imagining how a rape victim felt. Death seems like the worst thing to happen to humankind. Not death, but dying while living is the worst thing to happen to humankind. And the structure of Indian society is such that once a woman gets raped, her life is finished. She is walking corpse.

Sex is a difficult topic in Indian society. People don’t want to discuss it, but we still are the second most populous country in the world. Simple life events like menstruation are treated like a disease. Menstruating women aren’t allowed to enter temples because they are ‘impure’. I don’t understand how we can consider ourselves a cultured society. What kind of a culture do we have? Where some places we have kanya puja (girl-worship), another place dalit women are treated worse than animals.

When the Nirbhaya case happened, I remembered reading the newspaper and imagining, for two seconds, if it was me in her place. It could have been anyone that day. But it was a young girl, aspiring to be a doctor, who was her parent’s only source of support. And it had to be her. I have stopped believing in religion. Because no God, Prabhu, Allah, Mahavira or Christ was there to save her that night. She was raped in the most brutal way possible. There are worse rape cases around the world, but India needed to learn a lesson. After 60 years of Independence, what have me managed to establish? We don’t even have 100% literacy. Our Ministers are themselves convicted of crimes. Despite having a woman Prime Minister, did we manage to topple US when it comes to Women rights? What do we have to be proud of, apart from our engineers running Microsoft and Google? Could those engineers save Nirbhaya?

India’s Daughter, a documentary on the 2012 rape case is made by a British lady, and a rape victim herself Leslee Udwin. A lot of people might be sceptical to see the video, given Danny Boyle’s movie Slumdog Millionaire, which made India immensely unpopular. The Indian government banned the video, stating that it might create a culture of ‘fear’ amongst women.

My question is plain and simple- Why are we running away from the reality? We know our society is screwed up, men have a mis-conception of power. Men in smaller cities grow up believing they can OWN a woman, they have a right over a woman because they are a MAN. If a girl refuses a man’s love proposal, he can throw acid on her, so that she can never be with another man. If a woman speaks out of line, either her father or her husband will thrash her. If a girl in a village decides to wear jeans, she will be eve-teased by the local men. And if she walks out after 10 in the night, men will rape her, irrespective of her being 15 or 50.

We have a culture of male misogyny. We have a culture of sexism. We don’t have a culture at all, we have a screwed up conception that we have culture in the first place. All those politicians claiming that India is “pure” because we aren’t like the West, aren’t they the ones watching porn in Parliament and sleeping with prostitutes, or forcing young women to sleep with them because they are politicians?

While watching this documentary, I couldn’t bring myself to face Jyoti Singh’s mother. We collectively failed her a society. We have failed her. Plain and simple. Even if she had lived, she would have been crippled for life. It doesn’t matter which government was in power back then. The Sheila Dikshit led UPA or anyone else. The fact that something like this could happen and the perpetrators not be hanged immediately, is the collective shame of every government. AAP, BJP and UPA. Everyone.

We all have daughters, sisters, mothers. Would we ever submit them to this level of horrendous violence? India doesn’t need an anti- corruption movement right now. India needs radical change when it comes to making the country safe for women. That can be done even without educating people. It doesn’t need a educated man to know that women need to be respected, it needs a human to know one. By “safety” and “respect” I don’t mean, like the lawyers in the documentary said, keeping women at home. I am unable to sleep because I know if I ever land in India after seeing this documentary, I can’t trust the cab driver driving me home. I can’t trust the local shopkeeper. I am scared, not just for myself, but for my daughter. She will grow up in such a world and society where being a girl is the root cause of all problems.

Teaching women Taekwondo or giving them pepper sprays isn’t the way out. It is easy to hand a girl a pepper spray and teach her to use it, but when ten lecherous men try to gang rape, they can simply overpower you. Why doesn’t the government accept this harsh reality and make policing stricter? Why can’t we go on the lines of Singapore, where every rapist is given capital punishment?

The United Nations has been advocating that India rid itself of capital punishment. But what has the UN to say for SUCH a heinous crime? Such a heinous rape? Ban Ki Moon or Barack Obama, if you’re listening, please put yourself in Nirbhaya’s place and re-live the rape. Lets see where your advocacy for revoking capital punishment goes. It is very easy to read a legislation in the UN, much more difficult to do something for those hundreds and thousands of women getting molested and raped everyday.

I don’t care if the rapist was a juvenile. It’s been over 2 years, why haven’t the rapists been hanged? Did the UPA government, for vote politics and show business give those people a death sentence? And then we say lets make India safer for women? kahan se safe hoga! How?? If those rapists aren’t hung openly in Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, if their penises aren’t castrated and their intenstines taken out, then what kind of justice can we even espouse for Nirbhaya??!

Buddhism and other religions advocate that revenge is wrong. But we need revenge. It has been too long that Indian women have taken molestation and rape with a pinch of salt and moved on. Changing cities for a rape victim won’t reduce her trauma. Young girls who are molested don’t forget the molestation experience for life.

India has a golden opportunity. It can change things, become an exemplary example for other nations. But all Narendra Modi’s government cares about is NaMo’s image. Listen to me BJP, putting women in Parliament isn’t the solution. Rid the Parliament of people who pass comments like, It is the woman’s fault. Don’t blame Bollywood and it’s item numbers for rapes, discipline the people YOU elect into the Parliament who pass statements like, “it’s in men’s nature to rape,” “chowmein and mobile phones cause rape.”

The rapist showed no remorse while saying that they raped Jyoti Singh because she stood up to them. Even if the argument that Leslee bribed him is true, why is he even alive to say these things? He considers his case as no exception. It is not education that we need, we need the goddam men, the politicians to go to the villages, and start hanging all rapists from the nearest tree. India isn’t Europe or the USA, we can’t go around trying to impress the Western world and show them that we have Ipads and the newest technology in our country. A country which can’t safeguard its women can’t call itself a democracy. And women don’t need men to safeguard them, women need the society to support them.

Pre- marital sex is a taboo, any woman in a live-in is a slut, a widow or divorcee is the perfect person to be harassed for sex, because she isn’t a virgin anymore. I am not saying such mentalities are not present in other societies, but India now has these glaring into her face – these are cracks that have been exposed. And we need to change. Hinduism isn’t about purity of the woman, all those RSS activists or renowned personalities like Katju who claim to know everything about a woman, should put themselves in Nirbhaya’s place. I can’t sleep, eat or think after watching the documentary. Because I know a few months later I will be going back to a country where I will be scared, every day will be a battle for me.

And the saddest part is- there are women who support their husbands/sons who are rapists. Love for your kin is fine, but if your kin murders someone, you are also a partaker in the crime. Crying for your kin’s fate or blaming it all on the girl is cowardice. This is where our society has come to! I know that if I am ever eve teased in India for wearing shorts, everyone will blame me first. After all, its the basic right of men to stare and comment, isn’t it? Wearing short clothes is an invitation for rape! For how long will women take the blame?

All mothers – especially those with only sons, I urge you to please make your son watch this documentary. All I can do is write right now, but you can make a difference. Make your sons sit there and realise the extent they can go to if they wield the power granted to them. And schools should make this documentary compulsory viewing everywhere. This video is a slap on our democracy, our facade of “culture”. I don’t care if India has hundreds and thousands of achievements, as a woman I think every achievement is baseless because India isn’t a country for women. Its a soul less society today. And I am ashamed to call myself a woman from India.

I can’t sleep. Sleep won’t come to me anymore. Because I know that while I am sleeping peacefully at one corner of the world, another woman is getting raped in my country.