SEX­UAL HA­RASS­MENT Sta­tis­ti­cally Speak­ing

Men ac­cused in the In­dian #Me­Too move­ment were 35-44 years old when they com­mit­ted the of­fence. Three out of four live in Mum­bai. Nearly half of them are re­peat of­fend­ers. By Sreekant Khan­dekar

The Brand Reporter - - FRONT PAGE -

Men ac­cused in the In­dian #Me­Too move­ment were 35-44 years old when they com­mit­ted the of­fence. Three out of four live in Mum­bai. Nearly half of them are re­peat of­fend­ers.

Apause is a good time to re­view an un­fold­ing story. And what a story it has been so far, with women known and anony­mous point­ing the fin­ger of sex­ual ha­rass­ment at about 50 men, most of them well known in their com­mu­nity.

The stuff that was tra­di­tion­ally dis­cussed in whis­pers in of­fice cor­ri­dors is find­ing place on page one of news­pa­pers. Not once but day after day, week after week. It has forced all of us to con­front this mad dis­ease the ex­is­tence of which we al­ways sus­pected. But we knew of nei­ther its ex­tent nor its ex­act na­ture. The #Me­Too cam­paign ex­posed the faces be­hind it and gave us case stud­ies in ha­rass­ment.

For many of us, in­clud­ing my­self, the past month has been a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It has brought the me­dia, en­ter­tain­ment and ad­ver­tis­ing busi­ness at­ten­tion it could cer­tainly have done with­out. As the days went by, I be­gan to won­der if there was some­thing wrong with our busi­ness. How come nearly all the in­ci­dents were from this space alone?

Also, I asked my­self: is so­cial me­dia the first re­sort or the last for an ag­grieved woman?

Look­ing back, I might have been some­what naïve in es­ti­mat­ing the preva­lence of per­se­cu­tion women face in of­fice. That might be be­cause I have al­ways worked in – or started up – com­pa­nies where women are treated equally. I had heard tales of MJ Ak­bar and his ‘harem’ in my news jour­nal­ism days more than two decades ago. How­ever, I imag­ined – wrongly it turns out – that in the new In­dia, be­hav­iour like this was anachro­nis­tic.

My rea­son­ing went thus: at a gen­der level, we are a much more equal so­ci­ety than be­fore. Also, this is no longer that poverty stricken In­dia where jobs are hard to find. A ha­rassed woman might not be able to fight back but surely she could quit and get an­other job? Would a boss dare mo­lest a young col­league with­out fear of reprisal?

When ac­tor Tanushree Dutta made the first al­le­ga­tion against vet­eran Nana Patekar, I didn’t think much about it since it was a decade­old case. And when, on its heels the dam burst upon for­mer star ed­i­tor MJ Ak­bar, with in­ci­dents from 20 years ago, it was just an­other re­minder of some­thing from the past.

Hav­ing fol­lowed the #Me­Too cam­paign in the US in­ter­mit­tently, I had a sense of the is­sues and its ori­gin. It all started with an ar­ti­cle in The New York Times on Oc­to­ber 5, 2017 which said that movie mogul Har­vey We­in­stein had made a tra­di­tion over 30 years of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing women whom he then paid off.

The ori­gin of the In­dian move­ment a year later has been quite the op­po­site: in the US, it was the me­dia that took the lead to ex­pose the pow­er­ful. In In­dia, the al­le­ga­tions first sur­faced on so­cial me­dia be­fore

main­stream me­dia fol­lowed up on it. (Also, in In­dia there seem to be far more anony­mous ac­cusers com­pared to the US.)

So here is what we did at afaqs! My col­league Su­raj Ramnath, whose re­search led to the ta­ble in this ar­ti­cle, put down all the in­stances of men who have been ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment in the past month. We un­der­stand that these are al­le­ga­tions and some of the men might well be in­no­cent. Still, if data from the Na­tional Crimes Re­search Bureau (as re­ported in The Times of In­dia) is any in­di­ca­tion, only 4 per cent of the 26,430 cases of sex­ual ha­rass­ment dealt with by the po­lice across In­dia in 2016 were fake. So, In­dian women don’t gen­er­ally ac­cuse ca­su­ally.

Sev­eral of the al­leged wrong­do­ers have been forced out of their jobs. Where they are self-em­ployed, clients have be­gun ask­ing ques­tions.

In the case of lob­by­ist Suhel Seth, for ex­am­ple, who has been ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment by mul­ti­ple women, cor­po­rates in­clud­ing Mahin­dras, Ada­nis and JSW (Jin­dal) group told the me­dia that Seth was no longer con­sult­ing with them. And the Tatas have de­cided to ter­mi­nate their con­tract with Seth’s com­pany. Let’s now look at the bare facts and see what they tell us about the pat­tern of ha­rass­ment in In­dian of­fices.

To­tal num­ber of men: In all, 48 men have been ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment. We have left out the five who have been im­pli­cated for not act­ing on a com­plaint but were not ha­rassers them­selves. More­over, we have left out Varun Grover who has been given a clean chit by Net­flix as also Aditi Mit­tal, a standup comic who was among those ac­cused be­cause of an act on stage.

How old are they to­day?:

As­sum­ing that they were 21 when they grad­u­ated, we have cal­cu­lated their ap­prox­i­mate age which would be 47 years to­day. Nearly half of them would fall in the 41-50-year age bracket.

And their age when they did the deed?: We have tried to pin down the year but de­tails of sev­eral in­ci­dents are patchy. Where re­peat of­fend­ers are in­volved, we have gone with the first of­fence. We have a rough time­line for 30 in­ci­dents. Based on these, the av­er­age age of the per­pe­tra­tor was 39 years. Ac­cord­ing to this sam­ple, the age when men are most likely to let their rov­ing hands fol­low their rov­ing eyes is 35-44 years.

Where did this hap­pen?: While Delhi has a ter­ri­ble rep­u­ta­tion when

it comes to women’s safety, in the cur­rent #Me­Too wave, Mum­bai is the undis­puted cap­i­tal. Since we have no de­tails to the con­trary, we have as­sumed that the place where the al­leged cul­prit now lives is where the crime took place.

So, nine be­longed to Delhi NCR (Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion), three to Ben­galuru and one to Hy­der­abad.

The re­main­ing 35 live in Mum­bai – that is three out of ev­ery four against whom al­le­ga­tions have been made. This is iron­i­cal con­sid­er­ing that the streets of Mum­bai are rated among the safest in In­dia.

Guess the busi­ness:

When it comes to the type of busi­ness the al­leged per­pe­tra­tors be­long to, In­dian films

win hands down. Four­teen of the men come from here fol­lowed by ad agen­cies which bring up a round dozen. The odd bit is that though film and tele­vi­sion are both en­ter­tain­ment busi­nesses lo­cated in Mum­bai, only a cou­ple of ex­ec­u­tives from the lat­ter have been named. In com­par­i­son print, which has a staid im­age, has con­trib­uted seven ed­i­tors to the list.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.