Dr Kouser Fathima
Many are shocked that R K Pachauri, the Director of TERI is promoted as the Executive Vice Chairman, a post especially created for him. For those, who missed it, RK Pachauri was accused of rape by one of his junior colleagues last year after which he went on leave and before being reinstated as the chairman amidst stiff opposition.
Women rights activists were working to get him suspended and punished for his act but out of the blue the news of his promotion came.
Are we shocked? Yes and No. No, because the prevalent system often allows the preperators go unpunished especially if they are rich and powerful.
And yes, because many assumed that we had progressed enough to punish such crimes. The society and the judiciary were expected to stand by the lady in her struggle against such a system which allowed a powerful man to escape even after allegedly committing such a henious crime.
Not all know the reason why he was not punished but until he was cleared of all charges. He ought to have remained suspended or atleast on leave. But, not only did we allow him to continue but also created a special post so his control over the system is never diminished.
Pachauri was pronounced guilty by internal investigation of the organisation but he was granted a bail. But still the fact the governing council decided to create a special designation for him speaks a volume of his clout. Interestingly the governing committee has many prominent women who are never tired of talking about women empowerment. But it appears as if all such talks are merely for lip service.
The victim has already resigned from the organisation and has expressed her fear and anger at the new announcement.
This whole fiasco also sends a wrong message to victims of sexual harassment at work place. That the powerfuls can easily escape the law as they have the clout to influence the management and also the power to intimidate the victim.
As a result, either the victim continues to suffer in silence or is forced to resign for speaking out.
Work place harassment is the biggest threat to the Iives and careers of many talented working women. Though there are strict laws against sexual harassment at work place, seldom does a guilty get punished. More powerful the culprit, the easier it is to escape. All tactics are used to frighten the victims to ensure she is never able to muster courage to speak about her pain and agony.
Even the co-workers fail to support the victim leaving only with the option of quitting. Many careers come to an abrupt end and, worse, many lives scarred forever.
All for our hollow slogans of Beti bachao and Beti padhao!
Views expressed here are the author’s own.