A public meeting meant to mark the date when a 23-year old paramedical student was brutally gang-raped inside a moving bus — had several victims of sexual harassment or their close relatives and friends taking to the stage and speaking about their experiences at Jantar Mantar here on Monday.
“We have preconceived ideas as how a victim should behave and what path should she take. We need to understand that the victim may have other issues to sort out as well,” said Revati Laul, a former journalist of the Tehelka magazine. She was one of the employees who had resigned because of the way the complaint of sexual assault was handled by the top brass at the magazine.
“I had to endure all sorts of humiliations after I complained of sexual harassment. And, that too in a place where educated people work,” said Aruna Kumar. An employee of Delhi University’s ARSD College, she said she was humiliated constantly for daring to file a complaint of sexual harassment against the principal. “My office was taken away and I was given no work to do, I had to go to work but do nothing from 9 to 5. Even now, after the principal has left the new officer has not given me my position back,” she said, adding that lately her colleagues had started to give her moral support and that many of them had spoken out on her behalf.
Also present was tribal school teacher Soni Sori from Chhattisgarh. “She was made to sleep naked in the police station when she was arrested,” said Zehba Farooqui, general secretary of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, who along with several other woman’s and student organisations like theAll India Mahila Sanskritik Sangathan (AIMSS), All India Democratic Youth Organization (AIDYO) and All India Democratic Students’ Organization (AIDSO) were present.
Another victim Shelja said that after her fight for her rights after making out a case of sexual harassment against her former boss at a major Hindi newspaper had made her life very difficult. “It has been three years and I had to file a writ petition in the High Court because none of the other avenues to address my distress was available,” she said.