#MeToo: ‘If a woman doesn’t have proof, there are other clues’

Sonal Mattoo , a lawyer and founder of voluntary organisation Helping Hands, has been part of the inner committees on sexual harassment of many organisations, starting from media to hospitality sectors. As the MeToo India movement gets more women to speak up, she talks to Ambika Pandit in regards to the challenges these committees face

The MeToo movement has exposed the ubiquity of sexual harassment. But typically, survivors don’t even means the prevention of sexual harassment committee…

What we are getting in the case of circumstances is like a drop within the ocean. Most shy away from reporting; this is more not unusual amongst entry-level employees. The not unusual reason is worry of victimisation on the place of work and the social stigma connected to such issues. That is the place the function of the organisation comes into play. They have to ensure the personnel feels comfortable and confident about reporting sexual harassment.

Don’t maximum managers try to “settle” the problem themselves slightly than sending it to the inner committee (IC)?

Yes, they do regardless that it is not one of the best ways to unravel the issue. Normally a survivor will reach out to the individual he or she reviews to. However, revel in displays that this ceaselessly does no longer work, and the wrongdoer returns to his old ways when he sees no motion was once taken within the first instance. So, managers should refer the subject to the IC as it has a neatly laid-out process to file, record and continue on circumstances. We have observed that once a grievance comes about an individual, we listen the same things about him from other folks all the way through the investigation. This reflects a behavioural trend.

What is the burden of proof on the survivor — if there are no text/WhatsApp messages or video footage, what does a survivor do?

It is necessary that the individual going through discomfort on account of someone’s behaviour should file the subject even if there's no file of conversation. The investigation begins according to the perception of the complainant. For instance, if a girl felt the gaze of a male worker stressful she may push aside it the primary time, but the next time she is going to consider and take some steps like no longer being around him on my own in a conference room or percentage her discomfort with someone round her. The IC investigation seems for these clues to achieve a conclusion. Lack of evidence must no longer deter an individual from reporting the subject.


The MeToo movement has delivered to the fore complaints that date back a number of years. What occurs in such circumstances?

While there's a limitation length of Three-6 months for reporting circumstances to the inner committee, corporations are taking be aware under their code of conduct rules. The code covers skilled behaviour, therefore older issues can be taken up even if they do not come inside the timeframe set out by the law.


The traces between place of job and private lifestyles is increasingly getting blurred. Are there an increasing number of circumstances the place harassment has happened out of doors the place of job?

We do get a lot more circumstances now the place harassment happened out of doors the place of work, normally at parties. We get circumstances the place the eventualities which might be perceived as sexual harassment arose in an under the influence of alcohol situation, and later the lady realised that what happened was once no longer out of her consent. Employees must take into account that even if harassment occurs out of doors the place of job at a private accumulating, since it's between two colleagues the subject can reach the IC and will likely be heard on advantage.


Disclosure: Mattoo serves on BCCL’s IC as an independent member
#MeToo: ‘If a woman doesn’t have proof, there are other clues’ #MeToo: ‘If a woman doesn’t have proof, there are other clues’ Reviewed by kailash soni on October 22, 2018 Rating: 5
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