But What Was She Wearing? My next film on Workplace Sexual Harassment

Vaishnavi Sundar
Posted March 28, 2017 from India

For centuries now, women have held positions of power or employment in a variety of industries, worldwide. In third world countries, despite rampant abuse and violence, women have managed to gain financial independence, somehow. But such everyday hero stories have been withheld or destroyed entirely. Although the never-ending atrocities against women is not alarming enough, it wasn't until 1997 that the Supreme Court of India thought it may be a good idea to set up a formal forum for redressal. And the infamous 2013 Act which superseded the earlier '97 Vishaka Commission.

The shortcomings of these processes, delayed legal retribution and the prevalent victim shaming culture has ensured that women who face sexual harassment or abuse, are never provided the protection or rightful remedy.

It has been 4 months since I have entirely dedicated myself to researching, interviewing and learning more about the legalities of the policies of SHW. It is a good mix of horror and anxiety, because the more I dig out information, more I realize how important it is to make this film.

This is curiously a project curriculum that I have designed and hope to execute as an internship exercise for Hannah Latimer Snell, who is coming down from Portland, Oregan, to shadow my work as a filmmaker. This is also the first time I am offering an International internship. The idea is to raise enough funds by applying for grants so we can successfully make this film. What is unique about this project is that Hannah would get hands-on experience in every single aspect of filmmaking. What's more, she would also be shooting some interviews in the US after her return, in which she would apply all the skill set that she has picked up while in India. I am hoping that I would include parts of that in the film in order to emphasize that SHW is the same in every single country.

"But what was she wearing?" scrutinizes the Act of 2013 in detail, by examining the nitty gritties of law, by juxtaposing the expectations and realities of seeking redressal. The documentary hopes to portray some successful stories, some very unsuccessful stories and it digs deeper into the culture that deflects the blame by shaming the abused.

I am also very keen on elaborating the term "workplace" to its grassroots and learn from women who belong to industries/nature of work that does not quite fit into a closed office room.

The trailer is ready, and I am so excited to share this with the WP community, a space that has been a great source of strength to me, and many more social justice warriors like me.

I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences and should you wish to network with me in any way possible, please feel free to. I will be posting periodic updates on the status of the film, I hope you would share this with your friend circles or anybody you think would be interested in helping my humble attempt. I would take all the support in taking on a twin monster that is "victim shaming" and "sexual harassment".

How to Get Involved

If you think this topic bothers you, and that it needs to be addressed, please support the project by backing the 'go fund me' account.

Please click here for more information.

Comments 4

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Jill Langhus
Mar 29, 2017
Mar 29, 2017

Hi Vaishnavi:-) Thank God for you, your tenacity, and your amazing skills/work. I look forward to further updates on your progress and I will share this on my FB and Twitter pages.I think both victim shaming and sexual harassment are so important to tackle.

Vaishnavi Sundar
Mar 29, 2017
Mar 29, 2017

Thank you, J :)

Thank you so much!

Jill Langhus
Mar 29, 2017
Mar 29, 2017

You're welcome. Sounds truly great:) Hope you're doing well:-)

QueenVirtuous
Apr 24, 2017
Apr 24, 2017

This is awesome, Vaishnavi. I too would be looking forward to reading your updates on this endeavor. Sexual harassment and victim shaming truly are twin monsters, and I wish you well as you proceed to use cinema to spread your message.

Hey, I know a friend whose father is visiting Nigeria for a documentary he is doing on women in agriculture. His name is Rahman Chaudhry, and he's Pakistani. I will speak to him about your film and convince him to offer his support in any way he can. Again, I wish you all the best.