Just when you start to believe that the public is becoming more sensitised towards the emotional trauma that women go through after sexual harassment, you will be stopped in your tracks. It is a dream and I suggest you wake up now. It is a fact that there are many who would put themselves on the line to ensure the safety and the integrity of women. Many would take it a step further and accept the ability of a woman to think for herself and to know what is best for her. However, society still has a long way to go, with some men to whom society is ‘supposed’ to look up to, for example, fathers and senior employers.
As if the complaints registered were not enough for the Greenpeace employee who was met with sexual harassment and rape, she has had to undergo character assassination, wherein women colleagues stated that, perhaps she had not set ‘clear boundaries.’ Besides that, male colleagues made crude remarks about who she was sharing her room with at night. Is it not obvious that she had set very clear boundaries when other male colleagues had to “physically place themselves between the two?” Her hard work as a fund raiser was also trivialised by sexist remarks stating that, “It’s easy for you, you just have to smile and the supporter would cut off a hefty cheque for you.”
At the workplace, an employee looks up to his or her seniors for guidance and searches for an image that he or she can respect. If the people, who are supposed to help an employee grow, inflict traumatising pain, more courage is required for the employee to raise a voice, against it. After that, finally, when the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) chooses to do nothing about it, not many options are left to address the issue at hand. Moreover, when such incidents take place in an NGO, that is supposed to work for the betterment of society, it can sufficiently be termed, hypocritical.
Another case of hypocrisy took place in Bengaluru, on Father’s Day, wherein a ‘father’ (Pascal Mazurier) known to have raped his own three-year-old daughter, was seen in the crowd protesting for fathers’ rights. What’s even more ironic, is that, the ‘monster dad’ was wearing a t-shirt that said “papa loves you.” His six-year-old daughter is fighting in court, through her mother Suja Jones, who has off late come under increased public scrutiny for her ‘character’. Stories arose saying that Suja was trying to cover up for her ‘lover’ who had sexually abused the child, by framing her husband. Suja is an educated and a self-independent woman, who, by Indian cultural standards, cannot possibly be untarnished.
A woman, if she is assertive of what she thinks is right or wrong, cannot be of good character and cannot be the ‘victim’; if a woman is aware of what constitutes her rights and is capable of raising a voice or a wave of dissent, doesn’t mean that her ‘character’ is ‘bad’. No, we have a long way to go before our society is sensitised towards women’s empowerment, assertiveness and independence.