I know this is a very sensitive subject but..
I have been castigated by those close to me for wading into controversial subjects. It’s possibly why I am not a good businessman. Good businessmen rarely speak out on issues, especially in India, unless the topic is one that doesn’t ruffle feathers.
This subject was dormant, in my mind, what with the greater virus occupying every nook and corner, for a long while ,till Tarun Tejpal was acquitted by the courts in Goa. Years ago I followed the initial parts of the accusation made against him.
Now, let me make it clear, I am not going into the merits of the case. No way. I am NOT saying that Tarun Tejpal is right or wrong. I just felt that something was not right at the time when he was accused and arrested.
My point is generic..
In my younger days ( as there are now too) there were horrific cases of dowry deaths and dowry harassment and while growing up I have been privy to the ills of this daft disease. Then came the modification of the act – https://wcd.nic.in/act/dowry-prohibition-act-1961 . Suddenly, in many places, on almost a daily basis, husbands and their parents, uncles, aunts etc. were being taken to task for dowry harassment. That was great. At least for a while.
Then, as is always the case, the roles were reversed and some enterprising women began to misuse the provisions of the Act to get their husbands and their parents, aunts and uncles put behind bars through false accusations. The matter became so serious that the Supreme Court, decided that the men and their families needed safeguards. So, came this ruling. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40749636 . This misuse was brought to the notice of the Court in 2014.
#MeToo..harassment of women at the work place and outside of it…
I agree completely that the workplace is stacked against women employees. There is no doubt about that. While many women have begun to lead and take dominant positions in large corporates, it is still pretty rare in the average company. Indian men have a problem reporting to women, in general. I have experienced this at close quarters. I started leading a team at the age of twenty six, so I do not know how I would have handled a woman boss. If a woman rises to the top in smaller companies Chinese whispers about her character will certainly abound in the office. That is such a tragedy, I know.
However while etiquette in behaviour towards women colleagues is just starting to improve, in many industries/ sectors, especially where women have to be glamorous, the harassment is a lot more. Movies, modeling, sport ( though not always glamorous), law enforcement are some of the places where harassment is rife.
I am not even sure that a majority of men in the work place have been sensitized about women and how to co-exist with them. More than that, more crucially, how do you deal with them outside of work. I have seen how friendly banter is often mistaken as an ‘invitation’ to be more than just a colleague. I have also watched as women ‘play’ men too.
Dressing up by a woman is another factor that is cited by ‘law enforcement’ people as a ‘provocation’ for men and an acceptable reason for them to misbehave. Women have come out strongly against such comments . They have said that it is the Boys/ Men who need to be taught to behave. I feel the jury is still out on this one.
What do I feel? ..
- I have two daughters, my wife has only two sisters and I have my precious grand daughter. I am surrounded by smart women in my personal life.
- The society / community I belong to is known for having strong women, who are empowered.
- I believe that Men and Women are two different animals. You cannot judge them by the same yardsticks.
- If a man came to a party dressed with a cut on both sides of his trousers, showing his hairy legs and his shirt open two buttons too many, I can assure you it will put off more women than turn them on. Vice Versa, the reaction will be assuredly different.
- I believe, without any doubt, that women are stronger than men, except physically ( with exceptions of course).
I feel that there needs to be a greater study into the reasons for the allegations against men in their workplace relationships with women. I do not think Indian police or law enforcement agencies can understand the nuances of sexual harassment. They have not been trained to understand this facet of human behaviour. Far from it.
Having worked with many women, over almost four decades, I can fairly surely say, that every country needs a dedicated force to handle allegations of sexual harassment. Let me stick my neck out and say that, if allegations made by the #MeToo campaign are properly investigated by professionals, one will come up with interesting findings. Also, for every allegation made there are possibly a hundred that are not brought out, and in that ten, where the roles are reversed. Most often, an accusation against a man, is linked to ‘Guilty until proven otherwise’.
Women are as ambitious as men . Many women know they are mentally stronger than men. Surely, there are a huge number of cases where men have been trapped into compromising situations. It really is not an open and shut case. The nuances of differences in behaviour of men and women can fill volumes of books.
To Conclude..( for now)..
I will end with two short points. Please do not be quick to judge a man guilty just because he is accused by a woman of inappropriate behaviour, especially if they are colleagues. There must be a proper investigation and no trial by social / mainstream media.
I would advise parents ( especially mothers) to teach their boys how to behave with women, from a young age. Men, be careful, walk away , especially if your behaviour can get you into trouble with a woman. Believe me, you will feel happier in a bit, the next morning and later in your life.
This is certainly not an easy subject to understand, but certainly one to debate..bring on your comments..