Today, I am going to detail a case for you that is quite unique and speaks for the grit of the woman who took on the high and mighty and won despite all odds. But she took almost 12 years to get justice and had to put her career and personal life on hold, suffer traumas and seek counseling and gynecological consults to keep her sanity and physical health intact.
Meet Rina Mukherjee, a Senior journalist who had an experience of a decade in her field till she took a sabbatical after having a daughter. Resuming her career after 5 years, she got a job as a Senior journalist in “The Statesman” in Kolkata. Here she was subjected to sexual harassment by her senior. When she complained about this to a higher authority in the media house, she was advised to talk it out with her boss and no attention was paid to her complaint. When she tried to minimize contact with her boss, she was terminated from her job citing incompetence in October 2002. She filed a case in the labor court for wrongful termination subsequently. And finally in February 2013, she was awarded a judgment in her favor after a long, grueling battle of 9 years. Do read her entire struggle in her own words in these articles:
As a woman and a professional, I can only imagine her humiliation and insult at being dismissed for incompetency. It makes me sick to the guts that a strong media house uses muscle power to not only stonewall investigation but also to silence employees and pressure the police. She suffered on account of our justice system which fails the innocent and the powerless repeatedly. Those who have grappled with it will realize that empty courtrooms due to judges’ transfers and long waits for judge reappointment can eat up a lot of time and demoralize the victim. The tardy system easily allows powerful people to manipulate the judicial system to punish those who do not have the required “contacts.” To trouble her further, The Statesman also lodged two libel suits against her, one in Kolkata and the other in Delhi, that ensured that she had to constantly shuttle between Kolkata and Delhi for all these years! These cases have still not been decided as yet. She could not take on any steady employment and had to work as a freelancer due to these cases. Her schedules went haywire not to mention her emotional and physical health. She spent a lot of money in her pursuit of justice. Time and again people discouraged her and asked her to forget about it. Most of us would have done that. But, she was made of sterner stuff. She not only fought on but fought on till she got justice no matter how long and difficult the path.
Do read her moving story in the links shared above. When I saw her story on Crime Patrol, I was motivated to research and find out more about her. Rina, I salute your spirit and determination to stand up and fight injustice. I hope that your case will provide motivation for many women out there who face the same in their workplaces but prefer to either tolerate sexual harassment or quit, often emboldening the perpetrator. White collar criminals are often difficult to prosecute due to their money, status and contacts. And did you know that even the police is harassed when they go to investigate due to their clout. And, it is very sad that Corporates stand by these criminals instead of honest employees. But, you proved that no matter how hard and difficult, justice comes to those who persevere. I wish you luck for your future endeavors. You are an inspiration, lady!
Meanwhile, Workplace sexual harassment law has been passed in Parliament in February 2013. But according to many, the law lacks teeth. See this Wall Street journal article on the same.
Picture courtesy: http://kractivist.wordpress.com
Update: Since some commenters have raised valid concerns about the lengthy judicial process and also misuse of this by women, here is an update. The new Workplace sexual harassment Law says that each organization must have a sexual harassment cell. Any person (gender neutral) can complain to this cell. The organization has to carry out an investigation which is time bound (upto 90 days). This gives a chance to every employee to complain. And also the process does not act as a deterrent to complaining. This also makes it easier to challenge the case in a labor court in case an organization fires you after your complaint.