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Sexual harassment at workplace: Former journalist of India Today Group, Rukmini Sen explained on social media

➤Rukmini Sen

Year 2012-2013. For one and a half years  India Today group and I exchanged numerous mails about formation of a proper sexual harassment committee so that I could present my case against Mr Supriya Prasad. 

Rukmini Sen, Second from left. Photo FB
Aroon Purie/Kalie Purie/ India Today group didn't take any action  in my sexual harassment case for a year.  They delayed the process of justice. India Today Group/Aroon Purie/ Kalie Purie haven't  done anything since then ie for last six years. It took India Today Group one whole year to form  a sexual harassment committee of sorts. However, this new SHC  didn't have the mandatory external member in it (who was supposed to be either well known in the field of law or women's movement).

I insisted that I must be called in front of a proper sexual harassment committee and that my work place owed it to me. I also refused to present my case in front of a half baked SHC. After a year and a half of my pursuing the case with the legal and HR team of India Today and my repeated refusal to present my case in front of a committee that didn't have the mandatory external member the fake committee sent me a mail that they had decided that Supriya Prasad (male Boss) was innocent because among some other vague reasons apparently I knew him from before...whatever that meant.

I read the survivor  account of PHANTOM FILMS case. I have followed closely the Tarun Tejpal case also. I have learnt a lot  from these survivor stories. I have understood yet again how my professional and personal life suffered because of that one complain and my public protest (without which India Today would not have taken any cognizance of the matter). Its been hard to accept that I have suffered in anyway. I have always believed and rightly so that I have been super lucky with support

One of my mentors  was generous enough to offer me a job when I requested him for one in 2013.  I have never been without work because of my thousand  other friends for last four years.

I have also not been without work because I shamelessly ask for work. I ask for work like someone craving for an internship would . I have never been ashamed of labour. I am a worker and I need work. And yet I must confess that I have lost out monetarily. I have lost out on seniority at work. I am seen as a trouble maker by some because of that one complain and may be because of my larger feminist politics and my acute discomfort with sexism. However, it's been twenty three years of being a professional now. I have re-strategized my work life because partly I have had to and partly because I felt there were better ways of living my life. I have equipped myself with new skills.

My morning mantra is simple - I was 21 when I left Lucknow for work. If I could survive then I will thrive now. And no fucking ex Boss can stop me from that. I am aware of my privileges. A middle class upbringing. A Professor mother. A rock solid and doting father. A feminist younger brother. A bunch of cousins and friends who are  fiercely committed to my well being .

In spite of all that the loneliness of being sidelined from the work that I loved for 18 long years is something I still find challenging to deal with. There are days when I wonder whether I should have just made a polite exit. It hurts me like hell when I get to know how some of my favourite  mentors and friends engage with my harasser...take him out for friendly dinners. I should be angry. Very angry. I should be disappointed.  I, however,  feel utterly confused and hesitantly sad.  Is this my internalised misogyny? Is this my lack of self worth I wonder!! Why is sexual harassment not processed  as structural violence by some of the smartest people in media? 

I would have taken Supriya Prasad to court but I picked up my battle carefully. My father had suffered a brain hamorrage in 2012. He had suffered multiple strokes before that. From 2013-2016 (till he lived) he had to go to hospital every month for blood transfusion as he suffered from internal bleeding. I chose my father's health over my self respect. Life is not a social construct. 

I am aware that because of me India Today group has a sexual harassment committee today. I also know that my complaint is still a complaint.

I am absolutely sure that it makes Supriya Prasad anxious when he wants to lay his hand on any woman, kiss her (which he did with an India Today professional earlier. He was asked to resign that time) or generally humiliate a female colleague with sexist and misogynist comments. Every complaint acts as a deterrent. I have no doubt that mine must have done its bit.

Lastly, if tomorrow any woman is harassed by Supriya Prasad again and she wants me to testify with my case I promise to be the first in the line. In fact I have never walked away from the line. The system failed me.

I will be happy to also discuss how Mr Aroon Purie and Kalie Purie are complicit in playing with the well being of their women professionals. There is no point holding India Today Conclave year after year, discussing violence against women but not identifying sexual harassment at work place as systemic violence.  

I will also not say I was touched, kissed or fondled by Supriya Prasad. Because I wasn't. I was subjected to verbal sexism of worst order. That is part of rape culture. Sexist jokes, sexist insults , sexist outbursts, sexist sidelining at professional space are unacceptable and serious harassment. It has harmed my well being and harms the well being of thousands like me.

I wrote about this extensively on Facebook in 2012. I am writing about it again. And yes as I have said earlier I did file a complain with the Sexual Harassment Committee of India Today. The ball is in their court.

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