MUMBAI: Scream if you are being sexually harassed on a bus (or any public place), or at the workplace. “Screaming draws attention to what a man is doing, and if women start using it as self-defence, sexual harassment at the workplace will stop,” said Eve Ensler, playwright, actor and activist.
The author of Vagina Monologues and initiator of the One Billion Rising campaign against sexual harassment was speaking at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Savitri Phule Gender Resource Centre, which was celebrating the birth anniversary of Phule on Friday.
Ensler said she learned the screaming technique from two Kenyan women who teach self-defence.
Violence against women, she said, whether subtle (leering) or extreme (rape) sustains patriarchy and women have been trained to be quiet or make the best of the situation.
“We live in silence. Everything is allowed to happen as we choose to be silent,” she said, adding, “We are trained neither to protect ourselves nor our sisters and we are always afraid of losing our husband’s affections, promotions and afraid of being stigmatized.”
To fight sexual harassment, she said, women must band together as harassment is personal and thus not allowed to become political.
Ensler said she was sexually abused by her father and though her family knew about it, they chose to keep quiet. “Years later, when I came out and spoke publicly about it, my mother apologized, saying she had sacrificed me. I do not blame my family as they were part of a power structure trying to survive.”
For such “sacrifices” to stop, she said, women must stand up for each other. “We can’t do it alone as it is too scary. We get too isolated and can get hurt. But if we are unified, then they can’t hurt us,” she said.
“So, if you hear a woman scream, you scream too,” she signed off.
- #India-17% women report sexual harassment at workplace’ #Vaw (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- ‘Strike, dance, rise’ against abuse, activist tells women (thehindu.com)