Sexual harassment: Delayed report doesn’t mean it didn’t happen
Last year in July, the Indian women’s hockey team filed a complaint of sexual harassment against their coach MK Kaushik. The harassment, said the members, had been going on since March 2010, but it took a while for them to speak out against it. Instead of understanding these women’s struggle to point out a wrong done by their all powerful coach, several people started doubting their credibility saying why did they keep quiet all these while.
In a similar event, a research Scholar from Mysore University in southern India yesterday started an indefinite stir, asking for action against her guide, Prof Shivabasavaiah who allegedly harassed her sexually.
The research scholar first complained to the University which simply turned a deaf ear. After waiting for 7 long months (it happened in March’11), she has now taken it to the local district administration. How longer will it take for the authorities to listen to her? Will there be similar questions on what took her so long? I guess there will be.
I recall one of my own experiences. When I was in 2nd year of my college, one evening I was sipping tea with a few female friends and humming a song. Suddenly a senior male student came up, made a vulgar proposition to one of us and walked away. Since the student didn’t apologize, we complained to the university, which took over 2 weeks to call a hearing. That day, some student union leaders came up and asked us to forget it all because it was ‘already too late’ and the issue had become ‘stale’.
Stale. Delayed. Not so fresh. How does that dilute the seriousness of a wrong?
And, when the wrong is happening in a place where women go to study and learn, shouldn’t the authorities rather focus on making the campus a safer place, like it’s expected to be?