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21 Nov 2018

Lekha Adavi, Indian Cultural Forum

India: Working class women share #MeToo stories of workplace sexual harassment

“#MeToo: Working Class Women Share Their Stories of Harassment”, 5 November 2018

The #MeToo movement may have started recently, but it is not new to India…Every working-class woman…has a #MeToo story to share. Job insecurity, low wages — upon which her entire family is dependent, no social security benefits, and added to which are caste and class oppression. This silences women workers from speaking about their experiences of sexual harassment. 

…The women participating in [the #MeToo movement] to call out their perpetrators are owning the movement as theirs. This has displayed the exemplary solidarity of women fighting sexual harassment and exposing it for what it is. The movement has also demolished the lies around women when it comes to sexual harassment…It has showed us that sexual harassment is shockingly common and universal. It has also broken the myth that a woman loses her and her family’s honour if she is sexually harassed. Women are standing up against their perpetrators against great odds and risks to their personal safety, job security, and mental peace.

Despite the Vishakha Guidelines and the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Redressal Act of 2013, working class women have been fighting for redressal and justice when it comes to sexual harassment at the workplace. There are areas of workplaces which are diverse, invisible and taut with class, caste and gender prejudices which do not allow the law to penetrate…

On the evening of November 03, 2018…a public programme called “#MeToo: Working Class Women Share” [was hosted] in Bangalore. Several women workers participated in the event and shared how the nature of their work and the work environments make it vulnerable to sexual harassment…