‘Permanent Roommates’, ‘Pitchers’, ‘Qtiyapa’ and ‘The Tripling’ are our generation’s most favourite household names. Why? Because they showed us that online hindi web series could be something almost as good as our everyday english serials, if not better. Yes, TVF (The Viral Fever), the online comedy channel gave us hope when every other hindi movie or serial let our generation down.
But then news such as resignation of the CEO of TVF brings us right out of our temporary comedy coma and plunges us right into reality. Arunabh Kumar, The CEO of TVF recently stepped down from his post on charges of sexual misconduct, and also stated that he was hurt by how the brand suffered in the ‘wake of these personal attacks’. He further stated that ‘the organization will always be larger than just one individual’.
TVF official came out in full support of their CEO. They defended their stand by saying ‘We take a lot of pride in our team and in making TVF a safe workplace that is equally comfortable for women and men’. An FIR was registered against Arunabh Kumar earlier this year in March, a week after an anonymous person accused him of molestation on medium.com. After this first accusation, several women came forward with new allegations of workplace misconduct. The blog post was widely shared on social media leading to around 50 women – both anonymously and otherwise – sharing similar experiences of harassment by Kumar.
The fact here that seems to come to light is that so many employees, especially women employees working in the buzz industry go through sexual harassment on a daily basis, but most voices are subdued either by the organization, or they might be forced to do that themselves, in order to preserve the brand name and the popularity of the production. However that infact accentuates the problem at various levels. People holding higher statuses in these organizations feel they can get away with this, because they know they can manipulate people and situations owing to their powerful status. Hence here is one example out of a million others of how powerful people misuse their statuses at workplaces. It is, at its core, about men who see women colleagues more as women meant to fool around with and less as professionals, as fair game for their predatory sexual behaviours.
Sexual harassment is hardly only about sex; it is the unmistakable coercive pressure on women in subordinate positions, a subtle connection drawn between sexual favours and work, the demonstration of power by a man in a superior position. It is about the man marking the workplace as his territory, not an equal space.
Another thing that has been highlighted is how brand names back their top people and representatives in cases like these. About 50 women came up with similar allegations against Kumar. Atleast half of them, if not all, must have reported them to their heads or their colleagues at this workplace. However, their voices were subdued so that TVF wouldn’t be tainted in any way.
In India, nearly 60% of the victims had endured it for at least six months before speaking up and nearly 29% had waited for a year to complain. But here’s the rub: only about 31% had complained to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in the organisation, the report stated. The ICC is, of course, required by law.
The subjugation of voices in the workplace to preserve brand names is increasingly seen nowadays. In the 21st century, we expect quick results, quick justice. But do we get that? No, we don’t. This was reiterated by the TVF incident. TVF might hold this entire event to be false, but I don’t think 50 women would be wrong about this. Grievances of women in every workplace needs to be addressed. Equality interms of increase in the statistics of working women is a positive sign, but harassment in the workplace diffuses the positive characteristics of this.
The text, tone and tenor of the statement issued by The Viral Fever (TVF), among India’s top entertainment software start-ups, while denying the allegation of sexual harassment against its co-founder Arunabh Kumar, tells us a great deal about how sexual harassment figures as an issue in the workplace, even in trendy companies that otherwise seem progressive and feminism-oriented. Organizations need to step up their professionalism, not by hiding crime under the wings of brand names, but by taking up cases of sexual harassment and ensuring that every workplace, especially like that of TVF are hospitable enough to let both men and women feel safe in their offices in literal meanings of the term, so that safety and equality can be realized fully someday.
Source – Hindustan Times