I am beginning to realise how deceptive a word like eve teasing can be and am even beginning to resent it. That’s perhaps a good thing because it is only when you feel strongly about something that you change that aspect in things around you.
Two weeks ago my boss molested a colleague of mine. We are two teams working with him with three girls. It did not come as a surprise unfortunately. He had joined our office about six months ago and was a very “touchy-feely” person. But most of us women managed to keep his hands off our bodies.
But this time, while dropping her home (which is routine for us as we work late often and not all women have their own transportation), he touched her without permission and even propositioned dinner. What was worse was that it seemed premeditated – he getting her alone in his car.
But she, no shrinking violet thankfully, came to office and raised a stink. Her declaration led to many other insidious insinuations coming to light. His casual brushing against breasts, his insistence on adjusting seat belts for his women co-passengers, his detailed talks on positions from the Kamasutra, some stupid couplet he seemed to love on reproductive organs, his favoured pose of blocking a women between the computer and his arms .. I wonder if this list ever will finish.
My office responded with immediacy and sacked him. It was a very strange situation where I knew he deserved it (more dire a repercussion perhaps) but was still plagued by something unsettling me which was not entirely guilt but a dissatisfaction of sorts. A friend of mine said “one does not want this kind of power to change things.. it comes with extreme responsibility and wonders if one has not over reacted”. I realised that was true to an extent and one always, after all, does berate saying “I wish I had reacted earlier”.
I managed to get through the last ten days with messy, uneasy, slimy guilt – feeling bad for his wife and his son and for all those women who he had taken liberties with. Feeling helpless for not recognising the gleam in his eye earlier.. and so on and so forth.
But yesterday when I went for an installation put up by Blank Noise and I read letters and accounts there, that’s when my anger surfaced and wiped out all other doubts. He violated our space and sacking him was perhaps the least damaging that was done.
Though the installation comes off tomorrow, it is worth making a trip to India Habitat Centre for it. Keep that anger alive. Only then you may speak out against it.