Statement of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, October 20, 2018
Over the last four weeks we have read and heard of the trauma experienced by scores of women who had been subjected to sexual harassment at work. These are women working in a variety of fields, including media and journalism, the entertainment industry, the fine arts and culture, academics, offices of political parties, private corporations and many others. They have boldly come forward to talk of their horrific experience with men in positions of power who have considered it their “right” or “entitlement” to sexually prey upon their women employees.
All these women who have come out under the #Me Too banner, have taken a very courageous step in baring their experiences. They are reliving their trauma many times over again through telling their experiences in public. They have done this despite knowing that the odds are against them in this system. They are being called liars; they are being put on the defensive for coming out so many years after the incident took place; they are coming under various forms of attack by the very men who sexually harassed them so many years ago, including having to face charges of criminal defamation.
Experience shows that a woman who has been raped, molested or harassed has to suffer many more indignities when she reveals her experiences. Such experiences leave deep emotional scars that cannot be healed easily. She is reopening those wounds when she speaks out now. She becomes the target of societal scorn and suspicion. Her very integrity as a human being and as a woman is in question. She suffers even more if she has to defend her statement in a court of law.
It is therefore no wonder that such offences are rarely reported by the victims. The vicimised woman feels powerless against the man who has attacked her because he is in a position of authority at the workplace; she is vulnerable to being attacked again and if she protests, she is vulnerable to losing her job. And there is no guarantee at all that she will find support from anyone else in authority at the workplace.
Communist Ghadar Party stands with these victims of sexual harassment and upholds their right to expose and shame these men who have used their positions of authority and fame in their profession to harass them. Society must condemn these attacks and support the struggle of these victims to speak out. Their courage must be lauded and we must stand with them as they wage their battle against injustice. It is indeed heartening that many women and men in these professions as well as across society have come out unequivocally in support of the victims.
Women in all sections of our society are vulnerable to harassment and attacks at home, in the workplace and on the streets. Women are accorded a secondary status in society and are not respected as human beings. The economic system keeps alive and thrives on the debasement and super-exploitation of women. The political system further oppresses those who resist this exploitation and defends the interests of the exploiters.
Every time people are agitated about such attacks on women, the state offers some palliatives like special committees for investigation or draws up some “guidelines” to pacify the demands for justice. The Indian state claims to have set up institutional and judicial mechanisms against sexual harassment at the workplace by passing the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. By this Act, all government and private institutions must set up a complaints committee. The Act also talks of penalizing employers for violating this provision. However, several institutions, government and private, do not have functioning internal complaints committees and they have not been penalized. Further, from the posts of the victims on social media and from the untold stories of so many more women, it is clear that such committees, where they exist, have remained a dead letter. In most cases, the victims’ complaints have been ignored or simply rejected, they have been advised to ignore the abuses and withdraw their complaints, as the persons accused are “too powerful”!
There is a growing number of women who are participating in the workforce today. They have no protection from harassment. In order to change this, working women must get organized at their workplaces with their men co-workers. They must be in the forefront of these organisations making them effective mechanisms to ensure that there is no harassment of women workers.
In the final analysis, there has to be a revolutionary change that will establish a new society that will uphold the dignity of labour, the dignity of all working women and men.