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5 Things I’d Like To Hear From TVF In Response To Sexual Harassment Accusations (Not, ‘We’re Going After You’)

Posted: March 13, 2017

Just as we were all left shocked by Susan Fowler’s experiences of harassment at Uber, comes along a new post by an ‘Indian Fowler’ – alleging that she was sexually harassed by Arunabh Kumar, Founder of viral video makers, TVF.

In a single day, TVF offers its ‘official response‘ which not only makes no mention of what (if anything) the company is doing about the allegations, but instead, adds on a vague threat, saying, “We will leave no stone unturned to find the author of the article and bring them to severe justice for making such false allegations.”

A few years ago, I attended a breakfast meeting of women in media, and among the many things we discussed was the rampant sexual harassment in the industry, and how women who had dared to file complaints, often never really found employment again.

Rina Mukherji, a courageous independent journalist, who once filed a case against her then-employer, The Statesman, has shared here at Women’s Web previously, how it took her years and years of struggle to get even a modicum of justice. It is common knowledge that in both the media and entertainment industries, sexual harassment is not a rare occurrence at all.

It appears now that new media and startups will be no different.

This is not about whether you believe Indian Fowler or TVF. (I believe that the price of speaking up is so high, and women know this so well, that there really is no reason for women to waste their time speaking of things that didn’t happen to them. Also, we know sexual harassment when it happens to us – it’s not a misunderstanding.)

Nonetheless, whether or not you believe her, here are a few things we should be asking TVF to clarify on, rather than giving an empty statement verging on a threat.

  1. Is TVF aware that the onus of creating a safe workplace environment lies on the employer? What steps does the company take to communicate to employees that it is a workplace with zero-tolerance for harassment?
  2. Does TVF have an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and are employees aware of the existence of this committee, and how to access it?
  3. Does the ICC consist of 50% women, and include an external, impartial member as required by law?
  4. Have there been any previous complaints raised against any senior management from TVF, and how were these dealt with? In other words, what is your process?
  5. What steps will you be taking in the present case to actually investigate the allegations before coming to a conclusion, rather than making your conclusions first?

It’s worthwhile noting that after ‘Indian Fowler’ spoke up, others have spoken too. Writer-Director Reema Sengupta says, in a recent Facebook post, “To everyone doubting if this is true, know that this girl definitely isn’t the only girl he has been a sleaze to.”

As always though, we put the onus of speaking up on a few women, even though in many industries, sexual harassment is common knowledge. As stand-up comedian Aditi Mittal says,

If TVF wants to present an ‘official’ response to any allegations, the only reason I’d even listen to anything they say is if they were to present a factual answer to these questions. We need to hold companies accountable for things they need to do under the law (and not just as a moral imperative). Hitting back with a “we’re awesome and you better believe it”? Just not cutting it!

Image used via Pixabay, for representational purposes only

Founder - Editor of Women's Web, Aparna believes in the power of ideas and conversations

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