Voice of the voiceless

Voice of the voiceless

Bollywood actor Kalki Koechlin has always  spoken strongly about sexual harassment against women. In an interview with a TV channel recently, she spoke about how such incidents exist in Bollywood too and how actors  don't talk about it as "it's their career on the line". She added that while some fear that their future projects would  be at stake, others are numb to such incidents and choose to go on with their daily battles.

People from other industries, be it in Sandalwood or working in other work fields  echo  her feelings and  talk about how they have handled such situations in their own way. Actor Ragini Dwivedi says that her unabashed attitude has helped her a lot.  "Harassment exists in Sandalwood and every other industry. From day one, I have made it clear that I am  a no-nonsense person," she says. She adds, "Male chauvinism exists strongly in the industry where female actors are expected to behave in a particular way. You have to stand up for your own rights for others to respect you."  

Offensive messages to intimidating meetings are a part and parcel of "real life and reel life", says  actor Bhavanaa Raao. "This is not limited to just Sandalwood. I strongly believe that parents should train their daughters to fight for their own rights. The sad part is that men are never questioned for their actions. This mentality has to change," she says.    

Actor Radhika Chetan is not able to point out "if it is luck or fame" from her projects that have saved her from  harassment. "I have heard about incidents where lewd advances were made at artistes and how they dealt with it. I have been asked by actors about how I handle such situations but thankfully everyone has been kind to me. This could be because I stick to my own circle of friends," she says.

The actor expresses her concern for all artistes who have experienced such situations. She points out that gender discrimination is a concern on any set. "In any film, the male actor is always given more preference. This is a  universal plight," she adds.  

Such bold posts trigger conversations and make many in one's own circle deter from making sexual advances, points out Manjula V, a client coordinator with an e-commerce firm and a theatre artiste. "Though I have not experienced sexual harassment at work, I have received private  messages on social media which is irritating. I have also faced distasteful comments after my theatre performances and have retorted accordingly," she says.  

Manjula adds,  "When you know that someone as popular as Kalki has faced  harassment and still stands strong, it boosts one's confidence and gives one the  power to come out of such situations stronger." She adds that such viral online posts keep "such sensitive topic alive which is the need of the hour".  

Digital designer Gayathri says that she is sure that such incidents occur in the entertainment industry. "My sister works in the film industry and she has told me about young female artistes being discriminated on the sets," she says.

Gayathri hasn't faced such situations at work but adds that she has to battle sexual advances when travelling in the city. "Such incidents are rare in corporate companies as they have a complaint cell. This doesn't help one against the harassment outside though," she says.

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