Sexual Violence: A Global Pandemic
Written by Soyra Gune and Nikunj Morarka
Edited by Vandita Morarka
Policy and Legal Team
Sexual violence is a global pandemic. One in three women experience sexual or physical violence – most likely from their intimate partner, according to a report from the World Health Organization. There is an urgent need to increase sensitisation regarding sexual violence and the awareness of consent and sexual violence amongst persons at large. In this series, we examine sexual violence and related issues that have come up in the news, on a weekly basis, published every Saturday. This is an attempt to improve awareness regarding incidents of sexual violence and related matters, so that we, as a society can take steps towards collective action to reduce its incidence. It is an effort to ensure that we acknowledge the rampant sexual violence that exists, lest we forget.
This issue looks at 17th to 23rd June, 2017.
Female students stripped off their uniform
In Begusarai, Bihar, two girls had their uniforms stripped off as their father failed to pay the fees for the uniform. Reportedly, the school principal and a female teacher have been arrested. The State Education Minister, Ashok Choudhary, deemed the incident ‘insensitive’ and said that ‘stern action’ would be taken. While the arrest has been made, there is no news of what further action will be taken to ensure that such incidents do not take place again.
Man caught masturbating inflight
A man was arrested on the 17th of June for masturbating on a Delhi bound Indigo flight after his co-passenger complained to the cabin crew. The female co-passenger saw him unzip his trousers and reported to the cabin crew who shifted her to another seat and told the man to clean up in the bathroom, after the flight landed, the cabin crew handed the man over to the Delhi police. The man was booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 354A (sexual harassment) and 509. (word, gesture, or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman). There is an urgent need to build stricter regulations around sexual harassment in the aviation sector and in air transport.
Doctor sexually harasses junior
A doctor working at a civic run hospital in Kalwa, Thane was booked on the 22nd of June for allegedly sexually harassing his junior colleague, according to the police complaint he used to show her inappropriate pictures and would also stalk her. No arrest has been made yet. Such delay in taking action causes severe miscarriage of justice and can serve as a major deterrent to the reporting of sexual harassment.
Facebook update to protect women
Facebook now gives its Indian users the option to select who can download and share their profile pictures, this is important as everyone can see your profile picture, even if you are not friends with them on Facebook, unless you specifically change your privacy settings. Many Indian women don’t put up their profile pictures on Facebook because they fear it may be misused, according to Facebook product manager, Aarati Soman. Though users always seem to be able to find a loophole in such data privacy measures, to assess its efficacy we need to give this policy a testing period – it is definitely a step in the right direction and a great example of using #TechForGood.
Uber CEO resigns
Uber has been struggling to find an appropriate response to the building controversy around its sexist culture and workplace sexual harassment. Recently though, Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, was pressurized into resigning by five major investors of the company. He still remains on Uber’s Board of Directors though. How much of a policy change in action does this reflect?
Arunabh Kumar – CEO of The Viral Fever steps down amid sexual harassment allegations
On the 14th of March this year, a woman using the pseudonym ‘Indian Fowler’ wrote a blog on medium.com alleging that she had been sexually harassed by her boss Arunabh Kumar who was then the CEO of TVF (a popular YouTube comedy channel). The blogger deleted the blog post but later filed a police complaint, immediately after the blog was published many other women alleged similar sexual harassment by Arunabh Kumar but TVF issued a public statement backing Arunabh, but he reportedly hasn’t gone to TVF’s office since the allegations surfaced. It has been reported that since the past three months TVF has performed poorly, Tiger Global Management which has a 25 percent stake in TVF has reportedly suffered losses to the tune of 8-9 crores since this incident, these pressures and public criticism finally led to Arunabh Kumar stepping down as the CEO of TVF on the 16th of June.
While the matter remains in court, it is clear that an alert public which doesn’t accept sexual harassment and is vocal about women’s right can make a real difference. At the same time there is an urgent need to reassess how our organisational leaders look at instances of sexual harassment and violence.
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In case you like this new series, hate it, or think there are stories that we should be covering but have missed out on, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to your inputs and feedback!