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Old 12th October 2018, 00:34   #1
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Default #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

The concept of women's safety is as old as human life itself. However, over the centuries, with the evolution of thought process and delineation of ideas such as equality, liberty and feminism, it has undergone significant changes.

Civilizations have often tended to treat women as properties - personal as well as state; as trophies of war; as recipients of men's frustrations, anger and greed; as objects that satiate the society's lechery.

Telugu poet Volga hits the nail on its head when she makes (The Farmer's Wife, translated by Vasanth Kannabiran) her protagonist say:

Quote:
I was born with a head bent
A hand outstretched
Not unused to being sold
Till recently, women safety in India meant protecting our female folks from others/outsiders; the same way one protects his gold and silver. That's precisely why we confined them to the four walls of our homes - keep them inside, keep them safe. History has been witness to women of real substance being single handedly responsible for landmark changes. But they were few and far between; the condition of the majority remained pitiful. Education did bring in some change in the thought process of both men and women. However, this also meant that women would now have to go out into the bad world all by themselves, without the protective shadows of their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. They managed well, for almost a generation or two after our independence - or so we thought - until now.

In a society that deifies its women by calling them Kshamayadharitri, some men were found trying to take advantage of women's patience, their inherent fear of societal ridicule and the deep routed idea of protecting their character - Sheel. This necessitated the framing of Vishaka Guidelines. Sexual Harassment was defined therein as any
Quote:
such unwelcome sexually determined behavior (whether directly or by implication) as:
a) physical contact and advances;
b) a demand or request for sexual favors;
c) sexually colored remarks;
d) showing pornography;
e) any other unwelcome physical verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
It also made it mandatory for employers to
Quote:
a) provide a safe working environment
b) display conspicuously at the workplace, the penal consequences of indulging in acts that may constitute sexual harassment and the composition of the Internal Complaints Committee
c) organise workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitizing employees on the issues and implications of workplace sexual harassment and organizing orientation programmes for members of the Internal Complaints Committee
d) treat sexual harassment as a misconduct under the service rules and initiate action for misconduct.
We very promptly took note of the guidelines and sincerely implemented them - on paper. And of course shift+deleted it from our short term memories. Until of course, we were woken up to a harsh reality by the Nirbhaya incident. The civil society, intelligentsia, legal luminaries, activists and the Government joined hands to promulgate the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Still, whoever has heard of any law being successful in preventing a crime?

Atrocities on women continued unabated, resulting in a much publicized rap on our knuckles in the form of a report which said that India was the most dangerous country for women to live in, leaving behind war torn Syria and Afghanistan.

Yes, we got the first prize!

Just when we were trying to make sense of this, came the #MeToo Movement. It was a Veni, vidi, vici moment for suffering women worldwide. Now, the last few days have seen many Indian women summoning up enough courage to recall and retell to the world the trauma that they had been subjected to by their male friends, colleagues, bosses, benefactors and acquaintances, in the past. The accuser and the accused are both persons that the common man identifies - a film star here, a journalist there, a singer elsewhere. What is at once shocking and sad is the fact that most men accused of being harassers are/were men of some power in their respective fields and that they have tried to misuse this very power to thrust themselves upon unsuspecting victims. By doing this, they seem to have violated every rule in the book of ethical employment.

Now, it would be necessary to point out clearly that in not one case has the guilt been proven conclusively; Yet.

However, in a your word against mine scenario, it is very unlikely that it can ever be. Legal recourse for a crime that happened in the distant past is also a slippery proposition. Courts need proofs, the very things that aren't in plenty.

In a year when Homosexuality and Adultery were decriminalized and women empowerment was given a fillip because of other judgments and Governmental policies, the #MeToo Movement has further helped highlight the lacuna in women's safety protocol in India. It is time we realize that rapes and murders are not the only crimes that women are subjected to in the society. Any move that is deemed unwelcome by a woman can and does amount to harassment - lewd texts, unsavory looks, unparliamentary words or even an unsolicited encroachment of non physical personal space.

It all seems a bit confusing, with our conscience trying to make sense of the exact subtext of the flow. One may wonder at the viability of a free society coexisting with a prudishly strict movement. But one cannot gainsay the fact that #MeToo is a tectonic event in human history. And looking at the rate and type of skeletons tumbling out of the cupboards everywhere, that it has the potential to shape our future in ways one can't dare fathom.

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Old 12th October 2018, 09:32   #2
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Default Re: #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Shifting Gears Section. Thanks for sharing!

I'm for the safety of everyone, not just women, but even kids + senior citizens + men. I hate any sort of wrongdoing even to animals.

However, what I don't like about the #MeToo movement is the media (traditional & social media both) making people guilty until proven innocent. An accusation is JUST THAT. Until proven - whether in courts or via evidence like videos / messages / emails / etc. - the accusation stops at being an accusation. Let the law take it from there. Period. I could say that Moderator Samurai came to my house last night and used Kung Fu on me. But until proven, we shouldn't hold Samurai guilty. Social media seems to be thinking differently.

There are accomplished leaders who have resigned, stepped down or faced public humiliation on the basis of an accusation alone. This, I don't agree with.

On the other hand, if there is evidence, by all means, the accused must be severely punished.

Last edited by GTO : 12th October 2018 at 09:35.
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Old 12th October 2018, 09:56   #3
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Default Re: #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

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There are accomplished leaders who have resigned, stepped down or faced public humiliation on the basis of an accusation alone. This, I don't agree with.
While I agree with what you say, there seem to be cases where an individual is accused by more than one person (more than 10 in some cases). This movement is encouraging victims to come out as they don't fear the chances of being singled out (at least to an extent).
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Old 12th October 2018, 10:20   #4
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Default Re: #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

Some of my (unclear) thoughts on this subject, if I may -

- There are certainly a large number of people who have been subject to unsolicited and unwelcome sexual overtures/harassment/abuse, more of whom are women, but there have been a few men as well

- Many of us, during our lifetimes, have had trysts or flirtatious dialogues with potential partners that didn't eventually work out, but can now easily be positioned as harassment, if one so chooses retrospectively

- The definition of harassment being totally dependant on the point of view of the receiver which is hardly objective, leads to a lot of misjudgement and one-sided bias

- Traditionally one of the genders, has chosen to express interest mostly through subtle indications, and the expectation has been for the other gender to explore the possibility and be explicit. This sexual behaviour difference is not just limited to humans and can be seen in many other animals and birds. This inherent difference in roles, tends to land one gender in more trouble, than the other

- Sex has, throughout history, been (ab)used to enable one's progress, domination, interests etc. But, once the outcomes are achieved, it's also been equally easy to turn the tables

...the point I am trying to make, probably, is that it is very easy to vilify a large number of people by leveraging the Sexual Offences tag, and indeed, many people fully deserve it as well.
However, the overall construct of Sexual Harassment is flawed and quite subjective, and hence a very potent weapon, mostly in the hands of one gender, to end up selectively harassing, bullying and destroying the lives and reputations of perfectly good people!

Last edited by roy_libran : 12th October 2018 at 10:24.
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Old 12th October 2018, 10:31   #5
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Default Re: #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
I'm for the safety of everyone, not just women, but even kids + senior citizens + men. I hate any sort of wrongdoing even to animals.

However, what I don't like about the #MeToo movement is the media (traditional & social media both) making people guilty until proven innocent. An accusation is JUST THAT. Until proven
Just stating my opinion, based on social commentary that I follow. I certainly dont have the debating skills or the time resource to collect and present facts to support my opinion.

Saying safety for all, is like saying "all lives matter", when there is a call for "black lives matter". Of course everyone needs to be safe, there is no special call for action there. When a woman successfully fights off a predator, she is still scarred. A crime with evidence may not be present, but trust would have been violated, and a career ruined. All along women have had to endure victim blaming, and that has gone a long way in hushing their voices.

As a man in mid 40s, at no age have I walked around with fear of being harassed, at work, or on the streets. Men don't look for well lit streets, men don't carry pepper sprays. Women do. When the harassment is at a safe place(work), from a position of power, and trust has been breached, there is a need for a hard tradeoff. Walk away from their career, or hope for the harassment to subside.

World over the #metoo movement has been giving a voice for such people. A platform where they are heard - for once, without being blamed for what they endured. (media and political circus aside)
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Old 12th October 2018, 10:31   #6
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Default Re: #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

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there seem to be cases where an individual is accused by more than one person (more than 10 in some cases).
Agreed. But what if:

1. It was a coordinated attack to bring someone down. Not saying it was, but definitely a possibility. All I'm saying is, the attitude should be "innocent until proven guilty" and not the other way around.

2. The leader took a lot of tough decisions which angered a lot many people. If you take tough calls, you build a lot of enemies.

Would 10 people saying Samurai Kung Fu'ed my house last night make it true?
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Old 12th October 2018, 10:33   #7
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Default Re: #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

Before we go widely OT(seems to me) on the #MeToo into general sexual harassment etc., the campaign is about mild to terrible sexual offences committed by people in position or otherwise related somehow to the women, misusing the position or relation with the women.

The women who are coming out are not generally talking about the faceless strangers they have to endure in a bus for example. Apart from the sexual offence committed (and the degree of it), the key thing about the people named in this movement is that they tried to take advantage of a vulnerable position of the women, be it for career, or any other objective.

The degree of offence may not be that much, but the fact that a misuse of power was done with the objective that it might be swept under the rug makes these crimes more horrendous and traumatic for the victims.

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Old 12th October 2018, 10:40   #8
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Default Re: #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

A controversial and nuanced subject, with a variety of different but valid opinions, and strong emotions.

I recently had multiple debates on this topic: online, among friends/acquaintances and even within family.

The conclusion I drew, is we arrived here as a society, and we'll have to move ahead from here as a society.

Courts of law can adjudicate individual cases and set legal precedent, but societal change is driven organically from within.

Most sexual assault cases are of the he said, she said variety because it's a crime usually committed in private, so may never meet the standards of evidence demanded by a court of law.

Plenty of survivors of abuse never pursue action against their tormentors because it's often their own family and peers who refuse to support them for a variety of reasons.

How many of us would stand by our peers, friends or even a family member if they leveled a credible accusation against an authority figure or worse, someone within the family?

Everyone deserves to be heard, nobody deserves to be believed at face value. The only real solution to this situation is to support people in obtaining due process when they come forward instead of shutting them down, and that would, over a period of time, move them away from resorting to social, legal or criminal vigilantism because they had no other recourse.

Didn't happen in a short while, won't be fixed in a short while.

Note that I specifically refrained from making gender-specific comments, because I genuinely believe this isn't a gender-specific problem at its core. The current trend of most accusers and accused being of certain genders is because of the social setup we've lived in the past couple millennia, and that shouldn't take away from the fact that there are victims and perpetrators of sexual harassment and abuse on all sides of the debate.

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Old 12th October 2018, 10:51   #9
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Default Re: #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

Meanwhile, #MeToo touches the auto industry - link to article. Now, my point is, show the text messages as well and I'll believe it. Until then, I'm not taking sides. But Suresh Rangarajan @ Tata Motors has already been publicly hanged.

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Old 12th October 2018, 10:52   #10
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Default Re: #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
[b]

However, what I don't like about the #MeToo movement is the media (traditional & social media both) making people guilty until proven innocent. An accusation is JUST THAT. Until proven - whether in courts or via evidence like videos / messages / emails / etc. - the accusation stops at being an accusation. Let the law take it from there. Period.
@GTO - While this principle is ideal for every scenario, however in the realistic situation (refer to the Ford - Kavanaugh situation), law is very slow to function and the whole society is structured to hide it or shun everyone associated with it.

This is from a case of a very close friend last year who was facing a similar issue of sexual harassment at her workplace, a Fortune 500 global MNC. She went by the book; took call records, saved chat messages and email conversations; and complained to the HR; looped her boss and higher ups to ensure this doesn't get buried.

The whole organization tried very hard to bury it. After multiple weeks of back & forth conversation; and no genuine outcome; she reached out to alumni and finally was connected with the head HR and external legal help. And then things moved and some resemblance of justice was given. Even then she had to move across teams, because of the operational issues with her previous boss.

This is how our society is structured. In these situations, public shaming is not the right route, but it is the option that we deserve.

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Social media seems to be thinking differently
Social media is what it is - social media. Things are up today on this matter; tomorrow something else will pick up.

Quote:
On the other hand, if there is evidence, by all means, the accused must be severely punished.
On that note, several of our team-bhp issue threads should be not allowed

A lot of folks use it as just a sounding board; open a thread citing issues by brand/dealership/etc (even though other users point out the faults of the OP); parade the thread in front of the dealers, and then once their job is done, all is well; ignoring the multiple requests by other bhpians on details/proof.
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Old 12th October 2018, 10:54   #11
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Default Re: #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

There are many parts to this

Predatory Behaviour - folks who have intentionally expressed, pawed, subjected people to unfavourable situations. Those people should be hung out to dry once it has been proven. The problem is that industry still supports them. I have a notorious schoolmate who worked in that place in EC where world leaders plant trees. sacked and went on to lead another company - sacked. Trying to start something else. But it took two offenses to throttle his advances

Ignorance partially due to a Laddish culture- Being forced to be laddish, make embarassing jokes etc. Educate and take action if behaviour does not change

Framing - The victim might have had a consensual relationship which turned sour or merely milked proximity and lodged allegations. Am not sure if Tarun Tejpal was framed for antics in an elevator (have not gone into this or if he has previous accusations.

Baseless Allegations - Another friend of mine who would not harm a flea was sued in the US. However, the victim had been dismissed and allegations were baseless. The MD supported him and ran an investigation, locations, times etc. did not addd up- The victim had the option of dropping a baseless case or fighting a defamation suit.

Another problem is that even if a victim is questioned in order to establish facts or if a hole is picked in the allegation, the querent is labelled anti womens rights etc.
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Old 12th October 2018, 10:55   #12
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@GTO - While this principle is ideal for every scenario, however in the realistic situation (refer to the Ford - Kavanaugh situation), law is very slow to function and the whole society is structured to hide it or shun everyone associated with it.
I understand the legal process is slow. But share some proof along with your accussations on social media?

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A lot of folks use it as just a sounding board; open a thread citing issues by brand/dealership/etc
Just a note: If any new thread is started by a member with no track record on Team-BHP, we move the thread to the Assembly Line asking for proof (pictures, service invoices etc.) before taking the thread live again.
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Old 12th October 2018, 11:01   #13
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This movement is bringing one BIG CHANGE in the society which we all should admire.
The sufferer is now, openly able to declare in public that at some point in time, she was hurt by someone.

The "suffering" is as old as Human Race and there was no VOICE raised by the sufferer publicly till very recently. In fact, thousands of the cases are hidden since our society had apprehension of difficulty in marriage, post marital issues, etc

This movement has given a forum to at least VOICE out the suffering and this may lead to change or may change in the attitude of Youths to accept the sufferers even after such events thus solving some part of the impact

Post this, it is different ball game on how to address, how should investigation happen, who should be punished, what is the punishment etc

I believe very strongly that Our country is in a state where we can no more accept

"Let 1000 Guilts escape but Innocent should not be punished"

But, in my opinion, we should move to a state where the law should be

"Guilt should be punished. In the process, if one or two innocent is punished, let it be"

This can be for few years till things come under control. Today, I feel, things are out of control and hence, second sentence is more relevant in today's world IN INDIA
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Old 12th October 2018, 11:13   #14
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Default Re: #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

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However, what I don't like about the #MeToo movement is the media (traditional & social media both) making people guilty until proven innocent. An accusation is JUST THAT. Until proven .
Though I am 100% agreeing with you, let me do what I am infamous for, being the devil's advocate:
the problem with law (in Indian courts, corporates, families, etc - any place where socio-economic structure exists) is that it caters to the powerful and established.

Social media is an instrument through which a "nobody" can bring an injustice to notice - of course provided there is significant "masala/entertainment for the masses" OR there is another powerful center that promotes this nobody's cause against the main powerful center.

In any case what I don't like about social media (and the mob) is that people make decisions based on popularity and not facts or logic.

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Originally Posted by roy_libran View Post
Some of my (unclear) thoughts on this subject, if I may -

- Many of us, during our lifetimes, have had trysts or flirtatious dialogues with potential partners that didn't eventually work out, but can now easily be positioned as harassment, if one so chooses retrospectively

- The definition of harassment being totally dependant on the point of view of the receiver which is hardly objective, leads to a lot of misjudgement and one-sided bias

- Traditionally one of the genders, has chosen to express interest mostly through subtle indications, and the expectation has been for the other gender to explore the possibility and be explicit. This sexual behaviour difference is not just limited to humans and can be seen in many other animals and birds. This inherent difference in roles, tends to land one gender in more trouble, than the other
Your thoughts are very clear and believe me I have been thinking on these lines every since my teenage!

In fact if all men become afraid of being accused of harassment all the time - there won't be any dating, there won't be any flirting and other host of social phenomena that is TODAY an "IN THING".

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Originally Posted by gkveda View Post
"Let 1000 Guilts escape but Innocent should not be punished"

But, in my opinion, we should move to a state where the law should be

"Guilt should be punished. In the process, if one or two innocent is punished, let it be"
Great to shout and listen to such slogans till either you or your very close ones (father/son/brother) get involved

Last edited by alpha1 : 12th October 2018 at 11:24.
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Old 12th October 2018, 11:15   #15
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Default Re: #MeToo - Women's Safety in India

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I understand the legal process is slow. But share some proof along with your accusations on social media?
Not everyone has the ability to get proof. My friend was astute enough to recognize the symptoms and take action in advance.

What you are asking is something that starts on a conversational basis and escalate into unchartered territory very fast (atleast for the one being harrassed). One does not have the ability to gather proof in most of the case.
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