30 September, 2020

#MeToo: Why Women In Small-Town India Hardly Speak Out Against Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is rampant in small-town India; women hardly speak out, fearing brutal backlash

Night Crawlers
Young girls on a scooty navigate their way through a busy road in Rohtak.
Photograph by Jitender Gupta
#MeToo: Why Women In Small-Town India Hardly Speak Out Against Sexual Harassment
outlookindia.com
2018-10-20T12:59:48+05:30

Sonika Mallik, 19, remembers the agonising moments clearly, as if they happened yesterday. She had app­roached the owner of a garment shop in Rohtak for a job. After some small talk, the man offered her a gift: “Kuchch bhi sari pehno, kuch bhi scent lagao (you pick any sari you wish and put any perfume)”. When she looked at the price tags, her eyes almost popped out. “Some of those saris were Rs 30,000 to 40,000 each. And I was wondering why will anyone give away such an exp­ensive garment even bef­ore giving me a job,” she says. She had her ans­wer the moment she asked about her job description; what was she supposed to do. “Bas hamein khush rakho,” (just keep me happy) the middle-aged man said, reaching out to touch her inappropriately. Sonika recalls running out of the shop, scared and humili­ated. A few months later, she is battling depression as she has not been able to find a job.