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Sexual harassment for getting a PhD - normal in India!

04-07-2011, 10:26 AM
Post: #1
Sexual harassment for getting a PhD - normal in India!
I want to narrate sexual harassment experience which my mother has gone through for getting a PhD. in Rajasthan. My mother was a very bright student, throughout first class and even won gold medal in her graduation and post graduation in the entire state. (Those were the times when universities were few). Just after her post graduation she got married and she received scholarship. She started teaching as ad hoc faculty in the same university she did her PG. She even registered for PHD under the guidance of a department head( Who got recently changed). A knowledgeable, well known professor in the field. But lacking in moral values. He started insisting my mother that she came his home to discuss her PhD. during evening time. Once or twice my mother went with my father. But soon the guide started objecting presence of my father and asked her to come alone. When my mother did not succumb to his demands , he stopped any discussion on Ph D.
Afterwards he did not let my mother to get permanent in the university(although she was the brightest candidate). My mother went to court as well but as our Indian courts are notorious for prolonging the cases for the life time, she did not get justice. She has to leave her Ph D. midway and she could get her Ph D. under some other guide after almost 20 years. Although later she got selected in government education department but a bright candidate like her had to suffer just because her Head of department and PhD. guide had some designs on her.

Is this a new thing? No, all the women who are working may had experienced it at some point of time in their life in some form. We can name it differently i.e. eve teasing, molestation etc.
Interestingly, till now the verbal abuse of a woman employee is not considered as sexual harassment. If you start looking at it more critically , you will find that this is abundant in our society in different forms as still our male dominated society has not come to terms with women working with them.
I think this story may look familiar to many women and I feel that we women should join hands in fighting against these bohemian attitudes of males and should help each other if we find someone in such situations.
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29-08-2011, 02:57 AM
Post: #2
Mental Harassment after Fake Sexual Harassment
Dear Hima

I can completely empathize with your mother as I am at present going through a similar situation. Although my case would sound to be entirely different since there was no actual sexual harassment.

I am currently pursuing my PhD in Jamia Hamdard. Since my marriage caused some delays, after I received my JRF, I got registered into the university in last moment thus leaving me with limited choices. The guide whom I was assigned wanted me to work on an area which he claimed to be an original novel idea. Later on I realized that this was complete plagiary. Thus I requested for a change of guide and I had to start my work from scratch. But I took it as lesson for life and moved on.

For the time being,I was offered a substitute guide and my work started showing some progress. This is when some so called "well-wisher" decided to help me by sending a letter to the university, central vigilance commission and women's commission stating that my ex-guide had "sexually harassed" me. The person was pretty explicit with the physical nature of the harassment.

My ex-guide is infamous for his lack of integrity and selfish ways that he has many enemies within the department. The details mentioned in the letter made it clear that this was an inside job as I had just requested for a change of guide and the matter wasn't processed as yet.

Once my substitute guide who is also the dean of our department confronted me with this concern, I immediately stated that such a thing never occurred. Yet he was worried that it could be someone close to me who would have done the same. He was so concerned about my guide that he actually forgot the fact that no "woman" in her right senses would cook up such a story. He even mentioned that he was a little worried if he would also be caught in a similar web if he would be my guide.

Since the dean was my substitute guide, I didn't want to upset him in any way so that my research is not jeopardized. So even when he denied me a copy of the letter,I had to succumb to it. Furthermore, I was mentally harassed in his mockery of a sexual harassment committee which comprised of one lady and two men, one being my Dean himself. I was reminded by the chairperson (A lady of high ranks) of the committee that this is a matter of SHAME and mustn't be discussed with anyone(Husband included). After this drama they wanted me to write a statement stating that the letter was fabricated. In order to prove that they didn't force me to write this statement, they gave me a few days time for the same.

By this time, all my energy had drained out, yet with my ardent interest to complete my PhD, I clutched on to the last straw available. The Dean did not like me mentioning that I wished to get my brother's (who is a lawyer) opinion in writing my statement and also the fact that my guide used to make me do clerical work, so my husband approached him with a simple plea. First to get a copy of the letter which was immediately denied stating that I had no right for it since it was not addressed to me. Secondly, whether he would continue to guide me, for which he gave an affirmative stating that I'm a smart student and there is no need for me to worry. With this assurance, my husband asked me to provide them with whatever statement they needed and I did exactly the same.

In a few days time, the word gets around. The letter addressing the sexual harassment case has now been circulated to various departments. The same for which I was told that I need to file a case in case I needed it. The same one which they denied me as they were worried if I would go for publicity.The word got around in such a way that people from other departments started knowing me. At this stage I didn't know what to do but remained helpless to fight against the system as anyone who wishes to complete ones PhD would do. Furthermore, I was called by the dean and in his most "sympathetic" language he explained his spineless self.

First, that he can't be my guide because of the issue and that he is a busy man(The very next week he agreed to be the guide for another scholar). Second,that I should continue to pursue my goals with my new guide. Hardly did he know that he was crushing my dreams with those words of his. Since I was not allowed to tell anyone about the letter, I didn't know what explanation to give to anyone for me being transferred from one guide to another. So all assumed the natural cause - INCOMPETENCE. The cherry to this saga is the fact that some of my colleagues who got a whiff of this tale through some faculty decided that I must be kept away from since I have been having an illicit relationship with my guide.

All those who have contributed to this are well experienced doctorate holders or those wishing to achieve the same. Well, that is the standard that we maintain in our society. My career, my dreams... all shattered for some stupid politics.When approached, the Vice Chancellor offered me an NOC with honours to apply to another university.. but who would take me midway.Well I guess that is not their problem after all. What would they gain if someone doesn't achieve their life's goals.. After all its just a PhD.
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30-08-2011, 04:04 PM
Post: #3
RE: Sexual harassment for getting a PhD - normal in India!
Thanks to you all for narrating those stories. The dirty side of Indian society must be exposed to all Indians. Although you may not like to discuss this harassment with anybody else since you are a woman, posting this will be definitely read by thousands in India.
I'm very sorry to say that we've no laws against sexual harassment of working women in India. Forget about compensation for the loss of mental confidence and career.
We need Anna Hazares for this. But there can only be one person like him. So we need to work for ourselves.
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