These days when I am reading and watching current news about ‘MeToo’ movement, I recollect my ‘MeToo’ moments of sexual harassment and I realized that I hardly spoke about those encounters as my priority was to deal with the situation and later I felt making them public would be mere irrelevant. I never tried to tag those incidents under specific label but I always knew what I would have to do if I ever encounter any kind of uncomfortable advancement or sexual harassment. I never failed to fight back. Today I rejoice for those women who have shown courage to speak publicly against those men who sexually assaulted or harassed them. I don’t know whether these ‘MeToo’ stories of sexual harassment are true or not and I don’t justify all of them but I know it has certainly paved a way for any tortured women who want to speak up against sexual harassment. In India, social security of woman at public places and at home is largely affected by sexual advancements so I think every woman should speak up within her family and to the close ones.
Now a day’s thousands of women in India have come forward to speak against the sexual harassment which they have experienced in the past. No matter what is the impact, more women are learning to speak up and this is the advantage. Those who are really down trodden, suppressed can gather their courage if they would know about another women speaking up against sexual harassment. I feel every woman should fight for herself. I still remember those days when I was harassed by a male employee at ETV news, Hyderabad. That was my second job and it had put me out of my home state, away from my family for some 3 years. After first few months, I observed a male employee from another department would deliberately come to my desk and sit nearby me chatting with other guys in my desk. He used to stare constantly at me, that I realized much later. In just few days, after gathering some courage he started whistling and commenting on me. After approaching to my male colleagues I came to know that he had often spoken his flirtatious wishes about me to my male colleagues. This made me angrier. He used to deliberately stand in front of me whenever I was working in the desk. I told my seniors that don’t let him in our desk since he was not from our department and he had no business there. He continued staring, commenting and standing near me even after my seniors warned him. I felt very uncomfortable that time and was trying to find out the solution.
At one night shift, he entered into my desk and started staring at me. This was the boiling point for me. I straightway moved towards him, caught up his shirt collar and pulled him to the office door, made him to go out of building and warned him that he would have to lose his job if he would continue all this behavior. That was the first and last time I spoke to him. Next morning he came to my room. I told my roommate not to open the door as I felt he could attack me but he was just a coward Romeo so he begged me for his job through the closed door. I told him to write down a note that he had harassed me much but he would never harass me again. He left that note at my doorstep which I later submitted to my HR department. This was my first encounter where I learnt to deal with sexual harassment.
I often come across flirting men; these are men whom I know personally. Since I have warned them and they are much sharp to understand the term ‘sexual harassment’ they don’t dare to cross their limits. Though sometime healthy flirting is socially acceptable, there is a very thin line between flirting and harassment and no one should cross that thin line which may turn into sexual harassment. I feel there are more women who are socially oppressed by their family, relatives, friends or colleagues and these women should speak out openly. We should encourage them to fight against their troubles. As a woman, I think it’s my responsibility to educate other needy women to fight against sexual harassment and to speak about the same.
Possibly there maybe one or more ‘MeToo’ moments in everyone’s life, even men has to face this. In case of women, it starts when one shows clear disinterest in sexual advancement by man and he don’t back off even after her warning. There are many women who are yet to surface with their own truth of sexual harassment. This class of women mostly belongs to the rural part of India, where women are brutally raped, assaulted, stripped & paraded nude in the public and murdered too. Most of these women are uneducated and don’t have social & financial support. They are living under the tremendous pressure from society and their own family and it is so much that they cannot dare to speak the truth. We need to educate rural and urban women about sexual harassment and sexual assault. Let’s not jump the wagon to settle scores, which would be injustice to all the traumatized women who have survived. We all need to change the mindset so first we should speak about changing of minds. Come, let’s help all to heal.