Hindustan Times

A modicum of sensitivity is the least we expect from our elected representatives in an atmosphere vitiated by growing sexual violence against women

Not so from Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal who has taken the Tarun Tejpal case as an example to conclude that this will lead to companies not hiring women for fear of them levelling sexual abuse charges against men.

He dismissed the Assam gang-rape as a daily phenomenon and said that such incidents take place regularly in the Capital. He also added the usual argument that women should not wear revealing clothes if they wanted to protect themselves from unwanted attention.

Now we can dismiss him as a habitual offender. But it was only recently that additional solicitor general Indira Jaising, in a speech, mentioned that some judges had approached their chief justices asking that women employees in their offices be either removed or that new ones not be hired.

This amounts to the fact that women, who are at risk of sexual violence, are doubly condemned to lose their right to livelihood. This suggests a backlash against women at a time when people should sit up and think of ways to extend the maximum protection to women.

The fact that the law is quite explicit in its provisions to protect women will not work in their favour if there is a subtle discrimination by organisations.

It is almost as if saying that men cannot resist the temptation to molest, so women should be careful. The fear of losing their jobs could lead to a culture of silence among women, and such remarks can only compound the felony.

Mercifully, not too many right-minded organisations will turn away a qualified woman candidate on the spurious grounds that she may one day complain of harassment. But, it really does not help for people in positions of responsibility to come out with such regressive statements.

Many men have come out in droves to condemn violence against women. Sadly, the few really rotten apples also get heard. The fight for gender equality is not that of women alone, men are equal partners in it.



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