Just a month back I had written a blog on sexual harassment – Sexual harassment – the many who escape !. I also posted it on Linkedin Pulse and I had one gentleman trying to convince me that women have to be “dressed” conservatively, that it’s confusing to men if going out to coffee is ok or not ok, that the new law is draconian and women use it to their advantage and so on. I was not surprised but just saddened that there is still a huge effort to put the onus of not getting harassed on the woman, and very little effort in changing the mindset of the “harasser”. I agree that women who misuse the law to settle scores must be punished as well. There are horror stories of men who have languished in jail on a dowry charge when in reality the woman was settling scores and trying to get a huge settlement out of the man. These women make the fight more difficult, so punish them, but don’t use these exceptions to paint all women with the same color. For centuries it’s the woman who has suffered and even with a draconian law the number of women suffering sexual harassment is way higher than the men who face harassment.
My post is vindicated by the recent sexual harassment allegations against Nobel Laureate, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri. This isn’t the first time allegations have been levelled at him …. But they were squashed and he seems to have escaped thus far. I have a simple yardstick to see if someone famous is not guilty – when there is a whiff of controversy, they willingly come out and ask to be verified and checked. If Dr. Pachauri felt he was not in the wrong, all he has to say is I am stepping down from every office I hold and I subject myself to every investigation that you deem fit….. It took a press conference to stop him from going out of the country after the news of the allegation came out in the open !! This is a 75 year old man, who is well connected and very powerful. The lady who has alleged that he has sexually harassed her was and is scared of making that claim because he is so powerful – wonder what she went through :(:( and what reserve of courage she dipped into to bring this out in the open.
Here is the link to another lady who seems to have been harassed by Dr. Pachauri just like this complainant has been – Pachauri’s advances were commonplace.
Sexual harassment at the workplace is an ugly truth and one that we need to deal with strongly. I would continue to urge women to raise their voice, to not be afraid and to remember that if you keep quiet, the harasser gets away and is emboldened to find more victims. I would continue to urge decent men (and they are in abundance) to help women in raising their voice against the harassers. Don’t let the harasser get away. It was great to see on NDTV’s social experiment series, that men took strong offence to this man (actor) who was publicly humiliating his wife (actor). Both were acting, but the spectators didn’t know till the very end. They almost beat up the man. Please do the same at the workplace.
How a woman dresses cannot decide whether she is harassed or not. Just because she is “social” and hugs a male colleague to congratulate him on a promotion doesn’t mean she is “available” to be harassed. If she is single, she is not a candidate for harassment. A woman is a human being just as a man is and has equal rights – if you can wear shorts and bare your torso and not be attacked, she has a right to do the same. If you can backslap your colleagues and expect it to be taken as a “friendly” gesture, she can expect it too. When she says no, it means no…. Even if she is sitting on your lap and saying it. Harassment is behaviour that bothers a woman, makes her uncomfortable and is disrespectful. It’s not acceptable and every harasser has only one destination – jail. That’s when this will stop.