Wanna get a pay rise more than the standard figure ? just let your butt be pinched and breasts squeezed by three managers !!!
Dear World Pulse community-this is not going to sound strange, I bet, to some of you but to some it can sound really degrading. It still is to me. The reason I am sharing all of the discriminatory practices with the community is I want to voice out to a wider forum about the insanity that exists in the name of economic empowerment. I feel if I don’t air out, these will be buried along with me when I depart from this world. Certainly the need to change attitudes remain a pressing issue !
By now I had become the joke among some of my cousins for my habitual moving from one job to another. Of course they meant no harm it was just lame teasing. I had a lot of explaining to do my mom. I always pinned it down on the money and the need to be able to afford the rising costs. She understood. The pay never rises in decent proportions and levels of frustration just keeps growing…until I cannot take it anymore and decide that enough is not just enough but I needed to move on.
It was my first day at this commercial blue chip company. There were many staff walking around importantly perhaps more when they passed a new face. It’s so strange how people are taken up with their positions, power and behave in a way that like they are gonna live forever. I was smiling to myself at the absurdity of it all. I didn’t get much to do on the first day so it was a great day to observe, smile and just acknowledge that I was the new face.
Suddenly when I spotted a smart guy in his mid 30’s walked towards the back of the row of tables where 6 young women were seated and working. I was the seventh and sat at the end. He suddenly held a young woman by her boobs and she yelled. Quite taken aback I didn’t know whether I should turn away or keep watching as to what will happen next. I was speechless to figure out that this kind of behavior was tolerated just by looking at the young woman who pretended to be annoyed all the while enjoying the man’s clamouring over her assets. Shaken I looked down and began to wonder how I would react should this happen to me. There was not a wave of doubt in me, but I would definitely slap him or reach out for anything that is lying nearby and hammer the bastered. More shaken was I to realize that his man was the Manager of the unit. My silent reflections were disturbed when I saw another smart guy in his early 30’s hurriedly walking and slowed down to squeeze the butt of another young woman who was walking by. She didn’t seem to bother much except just turned around and seemed to know that it was the customary butt squeezer. Where had I landed? I asked myself. How was I going to put up with this lunatic behaviour?
As I began to work, this behaviour was the daily ritual and continued heavily on some days with a lot of young women yelling in appreciation I would say because nobody dared to protest. I also observed that the young women wore dresses that either had low necklines or ones that clung on to their body, dresses, skirts that outlined their young bodies to the wolf like men. I soon got accustomed to the madness and was glad that along with two other women I was being ignored. I needed the money to go on and thought that if I remain a plain Jane I would never be bothered. I was fine with that.
Work continued as usual. The company was big, doing very well, recognized in the country. They often sponsored big time sporting events but the benefits given for the low tier employees were measly, enough to make you depressed for weeks. Having worked really hard the time was up for the annual pay rise. I learnt that the standard rate of pay rise was LK.Rs. 30 (approximately US$ 3 at current exchange rate. I was paid LK.Rs. 3,250 (US$ 32.50) per month and when I collected the envelope I felt so irritated to understand that I just been given the standard LK.Rs. 30. Today in Sri Lanka, LK.Rs. 30 can only get you a cup of milk tea, part fare by public bus, a cup of herbal tea and nothing more. Back then in the ‘90s LK.Rs. 30 was also paltry, a figure that was not recognized as a decent pay rise. But I was the fortunate employee to be gifted with LK.Rs. 30 for all my hard work. My irritation levels rose alarmingly high.
I noticed the three young women who let the managers play around with their assets were silent, no expression. We continued and in the weeks that went by the two women and me (who simply worked and went home) found out that the three young dolls used by managers as their relaxation toys had been granted five folds of the standard pay rise which was LK.Rs. 150 (US$ 15).
Conclusion: Only if I had been wearing more provocating dresses or dolled up in a way that the managers could play with my assets I would also have qualified to get five folds of the standard pay rise. Was I willing to learn from the grave mistake I made during the first year? NO…It was time for plain Jane to pack her bags and leave. I was glad that I didn’t give in to those degrading advances. I may be fighting to survive and make ends meet but do I need to stoop so low just for money, was my feeling the day I finally walked out of that door.