It is the month of October, the sun rises in the east, you can’t sneeze with your eyes open and sexual harassment at workplace is a reality. The latest has come from Hollywood, the nefarious hunting ground for sexual predators that also happens to make a lot of substandard films.
Harvey Weinstein has more things to talk about when he meets Woody Allen, Bernardo Bertolucci, Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby etc. Not getting it? Weinstein is the latest sexual predator in Hollywood. One of those who got exposed. The famous producer of films like Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting, had sexually harassed dozens of women. He settled some of the cases – a decent way of saying that he shut the women up by paying them – and others never spoke up. From the victims who did speak up, we know that he was a manipulative abuser who made use of his powerful position in the film industry to abuse women.
According to the New York Times report, he asked for various sexual favours from young actresses. He thought it was a great idea to appear naked before them and asked them to watch him take bath. Perverts, you have a new god.
Following the revelations by the New York Times regarding this man’s worst kept secret, Twitter witnessed a hashtag campaign. Writer T Donahue asked her followers who their Harvey Weinstein was. Soon, scores of women started sharing their experiences of sexual harassment at workplaces.
Isn’t it time we had a campaign here in India? It’s not as if we don’t have enough contestants. So here are the Harvey Weinsteins of India in no particular order. There are many more but let’s do with five for now. That will do to illustrate the horror that the film, entertainment and media workplaces are to women.
1. The Tehelka Guy
This was the one in which people went ‘Oh my God!’ ‘Him?’ ‘How could he do that’ and other such lines that expressed shock. People assume that being an activist or at least pretending to be one naturally means that one cannot commit crimes on women. Well, that’s like saying that ‘I do great sketches so maybe I should be a pilot’. No connection. Absolutely not.
Tarun Tejpal, former Tehelka editor was accused of raping his subordinate in a lift during Tehelka’s Think Festival in Goa in 2013. On two separate occasions. Oh by the way he even told the woman right after raping her that it was ‘the easiest way for her to keep the job’. So subtly put. Great job at mincing words. ‘Let me rape you so that you can work in my company’ does not sound like a threat at all, Mr Tejpal. It sounds like ‘drunken banter’ – what you said it was, to the woman, after raping her. How often do you engage in such ‘drunken banter?’ one might wonder.
The Goa court recently framed charges of rape among others against Tarunpal.
2. The TVF Guy
Yep. CEO of The Viral Fever (TVF), a renowned online digital entertainment channel, Arunabh Kumar had to step down because a woman employee whom he sexually harassed complained about it. TVF in the beginning was like, come on, that’s no sexual harassment and we don’ give a s**t but when media was outraged by this response, they corrected themselves saying something like, ‘okay, maaaaybe something is wrong with us.’ You know what is wrong with you, really? EVERYTHING!
I mean, Arunabh Kumar had the audacity to go up to an employee and touch her in a way that made her uncomfortable. Later, from the complaint of another woman, we came to know that it wasn’t his first time. So what was he thinking? That his social status as the TVF guy was enough to exploit working women with career goals? Wow! How’s everyone in 16th century doing? What’s your role in renaissance? Innovative methods of sexual harassment at workplace?
3. The Calicut University Case
This is the one in which everyone is pretending as if nothing ever happened. P E Usha, the complainant, had made a complaint about the sexual harassment she faced in a bus while she was returning from work. She took the bus to the police station and made a complaint then and there. The police being police, were like, ‘let’s see.’ Maybe that was the reason why the evidence that she submitted, her salwar kameez that had the man’s semen on it – yes – that’s what he did in the bus – magically turned into a sari.
Like in a lot of cases of sexual harassment, Usha’s colleagues who had scores to settle with her, made use of this opportunity to portray her as a ‘loose’ woman. They ostracized her and told everyone that she had co-operated in the act. CPI(M) supported these rumour mongers and hate campaigner and Usha had to leave university. They even promoted a man who was in the forefront of further harassing her by spreading stories about her. A very nice example to set. Next time someone wants a promotion, they just have to sexually assault a woman. Yaay!
4. The Dileep Case
This one is the one that made Malayalees accept that sexual harassment was a real thing. This was the first time a celebrity – who is considered to be a superstar, which for Malayalees is a big deal – was arrested on charges of sexual harassment. What characterises this case is the modus operandi of the accused. The charge is that he gave an assignment to a notorious gunda in mallu land to sexually assault his co worker and a leading actress in Malayalam film industry. The gunda was supposed to molest her and film it and submit the clips to Dileep. What went wrong? The actress complained.
Isn’t it really weird that when men think of taking revenge on men, it is by murder and when it is on women, they think of rape and sexual assault? That is, they think that sexual assault is more damaging than death itself. Oh by the way, the actor is said to have harboured anger against the heroine because she had stood with his ex-wife, also a famous actor, through her divorce with him. What is more pathetic? That he thought raping her would be the apt revenge or that his male ego couldn’t stand women helping women? Hard to choose. Anyway, the man is out on bail now under strict conditions set by the court.
So these we
re some of the Harvey Weinsteins of India. Do you have one in your office? Have you experienced a Tarun Tejpal moment or a Dileep moment at your workplace? Write about it. Get it out and let it turn into dust.