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“But What Was She Wearing?” Why I’m Making This Film On Sexual Harassment

A new film on sexual harassment is in the works - and promises to look closely at why women get such a raw deal when it comes to sexual harassment complaints and justice.

A new film on sexual harassment is in the works – and promises to look closely at why women get such a raw deal when it comes to sexual harassment complaints and justice.

Women have held positions of power or employment in a variety of industries, worldwide, for a long time now. In third world countries, despite rampant abuse and violence, women have managed to gain financial independence, somehow. But such everyday hero stories have been withheld or destroyed entirely. As though the never-ending atrocities against women are not alarming enough, it wasn’t until 1997 that the Supreme Court of India thought it may be a good idea to set up a formal forum for redressal (PDF). And then came the 2013 Act which superseded the earlier ’97 Vishakha Commission.

The shortcomings of these processes, the delay in legal retribution and the prevalent victim shaming culture has ensured that women who face sexual harassment at work (SHW) or abuse, are never provided the necessary protection or rightful remedy.

It has been 4 months since I have entirely dedicated myself to researching, interviewing and learning more about the legalities of the policies against SHW. It is a good mix of horror and anxiety, because the more I dig out information, the more I realize how important it was to make this film on sexual harassment at work.

This is curiously a project curriculum that I have designed and hope to execute as an internship exercise for Hannah Latimer Snell, who is coming down from Portland, Oregan, to shadow my work as a filmmaker. This is also the first time I am offering an International internship. The idea is to raise enough funds by applying for grants so that we can successfully make this film.

“But what was she wearing?” scrutinizes the Act of 2013 in detail, by examining the nitty gritties of law, by juxtaposing the expectations and realities of seeking redressal. The documentary hopes to portray some successful stories, some very unsuccessful stories and it digs deeper into the culture that deflects the blame by shaming the abused.

I am also very keen on elaborating the term ‘workplace’ to its grassroots and learn from women who belong to industries/nature of work that does not quite fit into a closed office room. I am also hoping to speak to male victims of SHW, who won’t mind speaking into the camera.

Here’s the trailer for the film:

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About the Author

Vaishnavi Sundar

I am a feminist, pro-reservation, pro-LGBTQ, pro-choice and an unapologetic equal-rights advocate. I am the founder of 'Women Making Films', (www.wmfindia.com) a not-for-profit organization aimed at creating read more...

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