A few weeks ago an incident took place in our community that involved an alleged case of sexual harassment between a mentor and pupil. The rarity in this incident was that the girl spoke up and reported it. It is not my concern who is right or wrong, as it is not my judgement to make. However, the detailed account that was made public was disturbing to say the least. It made me think of all the women and men that undergo different forms of sexual harassment and remain silent.
Consequently, I looked up the definition and was a bit taken aback to learn what qualifies as sexual harassment. I went through the list and realized some of those things had happened to me even. Things like staring, winking, deliberately being brushed against, were common even in the ultra-conservative society I grew up in.
It got me thinking about this problem, how widespread it is, how many incidents go unreported, and it really bothered me. I thought about my own culture and how South Asian societies are so heavily weighed down with taboos of even acknowledging such incidents, and wondered what I could do to help.
For the past few weeks I’ve been doing research on sexual harassment with a concentration on the issues surrounding it that exist in countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Men, women, and children are all subject to these crimes, however my work thus far has focused predominantly on women and the need to empower populations to speak out against such acts.