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In a first-person article in The Washington Post on Thursday, Pallavi Gogoi, a journalist who now lives in the United States alleged that former Union Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar raped her in 1994 when she worked with him at the Asian Age.
Another allegation of vile sexual misconduct, in fact, this time, rape, against MJ Akbar makes us wonder how far men in power will go to intimidate and abuse women.
In her article, Pallavi Gogoi, who is currently the Chief Business Editor of NPR, wrote that she was 22 when she joined the Asian Age, where Akbar was then the editor-in-chief.
She said that she was “learning from the best” but what followed was a horrific incident of sexual abuse, display of power and the culture of silence in workplaces. You can read the heartbreaking piece here.
This is not the first account of sexual misconduct against Akbar. Over the past month, Akbar has been accused of sexual harassment by at least 17 women journalists. He has rejected all the allegations and has initiated a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, one of the complainants. On October 17, Akbar resigned from his post as minister.
With these horrendous revelations, the question to ask is not why women don’t speak up earlier – instead, what we should be asking is how organizations allow a culture where women feel like they cannot possibly speak up, where men threaten women in explicit and implicit ways about destroying their career in order to use them as sexual preys.
Gogoi recalls in her article how she was allegedly threatened by Akbar’s violent behaviour and pressurised into staying silent. Since ages men have been using their power to subdue women. Women don’t speak up because there is a fear that no one will believe them and in the majority of cases, this fear turns out to be right. This fear is what powerful men use to sexually assault women. Even if she does speak up, they’ll make up their own version of the ‘truth’ and amend things their own way because believe it or not, they do tend to rule the system that suppresses women.
Pallavi Gogoi narrates how the whole incident made her feel ashamed about herself. She said how she couldn’t gather up the courage to speak up because of multiple, complex reasons.
“Why didn’t I fight him then? I was always a fighter in all other aspects of my life. I cannot explain today how and why he had such power over me, why I succumbed. Was it because he was so much more powerful than I was? Was it because I didn’t know how to handle a situation that I never imagined possible with someone who was not supposed to do that? or Was it because I was afraid of losing my job? And how to explain that to my honest parents, who lived far away? I just know that I hated myself then. And I died a little every day.”
Like her, several women stay silent about sexual assault in workplaces either because they are intimidated by the perpetrator’s power, they fear getting their reputation tarnished in a world where the victim is considered the criminal or they fear losing their job. Moreover, in close-knit industries, women who speak up have always gained the reputation of being ‘troublemakers’ and have trouble finding another job.
This culture of silence is something that needs to go. It is my ardent hope that more and more women speaking up against powerful men will bring about this change. The world needs to know that women won’t be rattled, intimidated or suppressed anymore. The world needs to know that we won’t be victimized anymore and we won’t stay quiet anymore.
I read, I write, I dream and search for the silver lining in my life. Being a student of mass communication with literature and political science I love writing about things that bother me. Follow read more...
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"There is a story and a vision which makes us gravitate towards cinema. Even as we worked as assistants on ads, we realised that cinema was our true calling," say Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh Raseen.
The Railway Men. Mili. Cuttputli. The Diplomat. Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. And more…
Let me introduce to you the talented designer duo who have worked on these, and can be considered today’s upcoming costume designers for the screen. Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh.
Having studied at NIFT, Gunpreet Kaur Mann sent her portfolio out to several designers. Her first gig was as an assistant stylist with Manoshi and Rushi, who also happen to be a designer duo. She worked on an ad film starring Saif Ali Khan and eventually landed a full time job with designer Vikram Phadnis. Years of experience as assistant costume designer followed, which eventually led her to getting a break.
A ‘thank you’ makes a lot of difference in the way any woman in your life sees herself in your eyes. It might even mean the world to her.
I have not received any appreciation in the past. Probably never will. This is the experience of ample women across the globe. The expectation to be thanked for all the sacrifices she makes to keep others happy has faded. Yet the urge to hear few words of acknowledgement always lingers.
There is never a day when she pushes off her own burdens. She knows not to give up on people she loves. Women in general, are givers by nature and hence, give without asking anything in return. They have been the care givers and lovers since centuries however receive no appreciation.
It will mean the world to your mother if you answer her calls. If your sister seems lost give her a hug and assure her about her strengths. Tomorrow, there might come a day when you would have to make your daughter feel empowered with few words of wisdom every now and then. For the children to feel wanted and loved, you must be able to spare some quality time with your wife and be present in the moment.
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