This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Sonali Yaddav. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Story Of How I Was Forced To Quit My Job, Because I Wasn’t An ‘Obedient’ Girl

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By Sonali Yadav:

There are times in your life when you are so overwhelmed with the things that have happened to you in the past that you block them out. Sometimes, when you have the courage, you bring them out in the open for your own viewing, so that you can face your demons at last; at other times, even that is not enough.

harrasment at workplace

I earned the workstation that was assigned to me at my office through my Bachelor of Technology degree. Believe me, I was more than happy to be there. It was a multinational firm, and I was recruited through campus selection. My work was fun and challenging, but I was facing some difficulties as a fresher.

Our manager at that time had four “khaas” people working under him (including two team leads). These four people were seniors in their profession and very loyal to our manager. The rest of the team mates were to be directly led by these 4 people and our manager.

At the time of our formal introduction, there were some revelations. One of them was complete disregard of our so called “seniors” towards women. Our manager made it clear that he did not want girls in his team because they had “nakhras” and did not perform as well as the boys. This made me a little bit uncomfortable at first, but in a place called India, this was not uncommon to hear.

However, this was not the only time they used such statements. There were days when we used to hear things like, “Girls choose a fancy field such as Engineering on the instruction of their parents. Actually, they are here to work because they want to pass the time between their graduation and their marriage. Why would then they would be of any use to us? That is why I don’t like having girls on my team.” I chose to ignore the endless battering. It was meant for everybody. Everybody could hear this man say such a mean thing, but nobody replied back. In reality, nobody had the courage to. Even I lacked the courage.

There was a lot of restraint from my side, it took me time to realize that this was unnecessary and plain stupid. If I had a coffee break with another male employee, then I was under scrutiny. If I was seen on a break with the same employee more than once, then according to my seniors, I was already having an affair with him. I was judged on the basis of who I was going out on lunch with and who I was mostly talking to. There were calls for “time reporting” from my seniors after we used to leave office for the day. Multiple calls, multiple number of times. Sometimes they would want to know where I was after office hours. They would ask personal questions like what my father did or whether or not I had a boyfriend. Sometimes, I used to feel uncomfortable standing in front of them if my kurti was a little deep, or when I was not carrying dupatta or wearing a jacket. I was a girl, and I was supposed to behave. There were times when the so called one-on-one sessions were conducted with us. It is true that these sessions were conducted for our quarterly ratings, but they were torturous. I had started to talk back a little, because it felt demeaning to just bear with endless insults like, “your parents haven’t raised you well”, “I think I have picked you up from a gutter”, “ you are a nobody” and the all-time special, “what can you even do, you are just a girl.”

My talk back sessions were rewarded. I was given no work and was not included in the team mails for a while. Slowly, my own colleagues who joined the very same day as I had, started to move away from me. I was cornered. My seniors thought that I was creating a general distress within the team, and so they tried to transfer me to some other city. That was the time when I was ill and could not accept the transfer. I declined their offer. After 15 days, I was transferred again. This time they threatened to fire me if I declined further. I denied the transfer again.

I thought that these attacks would withdraw once I started working harder. There were days when we used to be in office from 8AM to 5 PM and then again from 10PM to 6AM in continuation. There was no recognition, there was no overtime paid. Thankfully, a company cab was provided in the wee hours to our company site which was located at a very remote location in Gurgaon. Once, my team lead called me after office hours asking me if I could go to a remote site for an upgrade of a system. The upgrade was at a certain place in Gurgaon, which I had not visited before and it was scheduled at 12 AM in the morning. The office was not providing a cab, and I was afraid to go alone at a new place in the night. It was around the time of the “16 December, Delhi gang rape case”. I asked my team lead for another male colleague to accompany me at least. I literally begged my senior to show a little concern for me. He did, but after I lost my self-respect in front of him. Afterwards, he said, “Rapes in India happen every day. Should we stop working then?” He was right, should we? I came to a conclusion that day, I am a girl, and that is my biggest disadvantage in this world.

It has been a long time since all that happened. I lost all my friends and I had to leave the company before they could fire me. After all these years, I am unable to forget or forgive. After all this time, I have moved on, but only partially. My self-respect, any woman’s self-respect is not something that you can give or take at will. I am sure that there were other women like me in the same department who were facing the very same things but nobody stepped up. I am glad of just one thing – I tried to step up, but in that process I changed. If the change is for the better or for the worse, I honestly don’t know.

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  1. Vibhuti

    This story is which I relate very much to. It is indeed very tough to work around people who are so gender- biased .
    Hardly any of the big firms that talk about gender diversity are women – friendly .
    Be it work -culture wise or policies , appraisals , timings.
    Female employees , are judged for everything beginning from attire to looks to even personal life .
    Even if you ignore the persistent glares or other “will you be my friend” advances , there are critics over you 24*7 who have this illusion that just because you work with them , you owe them all your time.
    People suggest that to be comfortable at your workplace , women should remove this thinking for their minds that they are females.But how can we do that if every other sentence we hear is about us being females ?
    Forget about women friendly , we just need a fair treatment.

    lIke in the case above , where the author had to visit a remote site in Gurgaon for some assignment, at 12 am .This is just so baseless.I mean where were all the “you -are -a -girl-we dont expect-from-you ” male chauvinists now ? Why couldnt they visit the site that day .Also, this statement is utter nonsense “Rapes in India happen every day. Should we stop working then?”

    What disgusts me more is that when such statements were being said you were silent ?You had no one to confide in in the whole workplace ? I AM GUESSING that you have quit now or maybe not and you are just waiting for your cheap managers to login and read this page ? It was your moral duty to report these matters to someone then and there .Silence is very harmful.Your mere penning down of an article wont help the situation and the adversities you went through .

    1. Sonali Yadav

      Hi Vibhuti!

      Do you think that whatever I faced wasn’t discussed with people who were “supposed” to help me out at the workplace? If so, then you rightly said it, that why even bother writing it down? Male chauvinism bit me in the ass then too…
      I wasn’t silent. My problem was that I was never silent. This article is meant to criticize MY helplessness on the face of the stuff that in my opinion were “strenuous” to the core.

      Anyways, thanks a ton for reading it!

    2. Dhiya

      Hi,

      what you faced was clearly sexual harassment at the workplace and the Vishaka guidelines entitle you to legal redress. You could still fight this if you want to.
      It is laudable that you chose to share your story with the public and expose such horrible behaviour.

    3. Dipankar Kacharia

      How is it exposing and accountability? name the names and the company name too and let’s see where this goes… What say, SY ???

  2. Kriti

    That’s the case with the Northern side companies.No wonder why south india is progressive.Most of the northies men prefer girls to be in ghoongat or as a housewife rather than an working women.Most of the interviews i gave in NCR people were mainly concerned with my marriage than my skills..God knows what can be done with these people.kudos for u girl for stepping up..

    1. Anurag Bhalla

      I completely agree

    2. Shruthi

      How insensitive of you to bring up your own racist issues and ignoring the larger picture. Such incidents happen to women all over the world, and not just in ‘northern India’ Are you seriously saying that there have NEVER been such cases in south India? Don’t be so ignorant.

  3. Sonal Jamuar

    And I thought MNC’s are better with their code of conduct specified .

  4. Niks

    Hi Sonali,

    really bad to see this kind of behavior in an MNC! But just few bunch of people and their idiotic narrow minded thinking can’t make us feel low.
    You did the right thing by stepping out cz u deserve a much better place to showcase your talents and more so that organisation definately did not deserve you!

    take care! Bye!

  5. D Gill

    Their behaviour is totally inappropriate and unacceptable. I hope these seniors eventually realize that they conduct themselves like unprofessional ass backwards monkeys. I understand that you don’t want to name the company, who knows how vindictive an unprofessional workplace like that can be. You did the right thing by leaving the company. What kind of company would send someone late at night someplace with no safe transport for work either male or female? It is their duty to keep their workers safe. And how is a negative environment supposed to be conducive to a productive workplace? These clowns need to learn proper management skills.

  6. Azar

    Really sorry and feel pitty about ur torturous experience.but trust me it is not only for girls even boys have to face such circumstances…to tell u one of my colleagues(a boy) had his marriage schedule..and he went to ask for leaves…and co-incedentally he had his Quaterly buisness review at the same period…his boss had the audacity to say that postpone your marraige despite he pleading that all preprations have been done and that too well in advance…Many such cased exist irrespective of gender.It has been proved by a survey that most of the people leave there jobs when they do not get a good and understanding manager…Companies always have strong anti harrasment measures in place…if you were leaving the job u should have taught them lesson either by complaining to internal HR or filing a case in Labour court …As per labour laws been a women you cannot be put under such work conditions like the once u have mentioned…A harrasment case against them would have screwed them big time

  7. akhil_

    You write with so much of emotions that one can easily feel with what phase you must have passed.
    This world is full of crapy peoples and your seniors are one of them.
    You are totally right with your feeling. and I think you did perfectly right thing by resigning.
    God Bless you!!!

  8. Divya K

    I am very sorry this really happened to you. I am a girl working in the US so don’t judge me because of that. You should name the MNC and the people concerned there, if it’s a US based company I am going to escalate this blog to the concerned people here, it’s sad when will indian men really come out of their hypocritical shell, the women in India have clearly advanced, sadly the men are stuck up. I am sorry you quit your job, no one has the right to take away what you earned for. If I have to give one advice, brace yourself and stay this strong and go do what you have always dreamt and wanted to do. Never let some morons destroy your professional career- if men in India want to think in a way, it’s their problem and not yours. Go tell your story, find a new job, be more strong and brave. The world needs women like you.

    -from another girl sitting across the glob

  9. Ashwini

    Saw this blog on a friends timeline and compelled me to read through.
    First things first:
    1. Don’t pity on being a girl ever…
    2. Don’t change for anyone – be it society, career etc.
    3. Whatever you faced was workplace sexual harassment and was the organization’s responsibility to take care of it (though its clear that the organization failed to do so)

    Keep Fighting with all your self respect ON! 🙂

  10. Sonika Chawla

    I am really glad that you penned down this issue!
    Being a part of the same management team, I faced the same tortures and sometimes went through mental trauma. ‘The kind of behavior he possesses is definitely because he missed counselling on those issues in his childhood, which says that he’s not well raised.’
    God help him!
    And God bless those girls who are still working under those guys and want to convey a message through this platform to the upcoming generation (girls) –
    Offer and demand respect. Do not believe in fear and fight like a girl who fights back.
    So that next time he who thinks can distract himself from his insecurities by victimizing a girl, will ‘THINK AGAIN’

  11. Sonika Chawla

    I am really glad that you penned down this issue!
    Being a part of the same management team, I faced the same tortures and sometimes went through mental trauma.‘The kind of behavior he possesses is definitely because he missed counselling on those issues in his childhood, which says that he’s not well raised.’
    God help him!
    And God bless those girls who are still working under those guys and want to convey a message through this platform to the upcoming generation (girls) –
    Offer and demand respect. Do not believe in fear and fight like a girl who fights back.
    So that next time he who thinks can distract himself from his insecurities by victimizing a girl, will ‘THINK AGAIN’

  12. Angela

    I was moved by your story to write and tell you that you did nothing wrong. You are living in a culture that does not respect the rights of women and fighting for equality in a workplace where clearly there is none. Your management’s behaviour would not be tolerated in most western companies. Agreed, there are exceptions but you did nothing wrong other than assert your rights as a person, and employee and human being. Sad that it isn’t accepted. Thank you for sharing this traumatic experience to shed light on the plight of women and girls. You show enormous courage. You have NOTHING to be ashamed of and EVERYTHING to be proud of.

  13. Anirudh

    I feel sad reading this. Please take care that your self-esteem remains high. The honesty displayed in your writing proves that you have been brought up really well. Clearly it is the attitude and mentality of your superiors that is at fault here. Most human beings go through such undeserved struggles at some point in life. Try to forget and move on. Love.

  14. Dipankar Kacharia

    Dear S Y,

    First up, You gave up !! Remember that… And why are you intent on creating a sorry picture of yourself (under the Garb of a Woman).

    Please share:
    1. You haven’t given us details of your performance (NO) and your KRA (accepted by you and provided by the management).
    2. You tell us that a company in NCR isn’t providing you with a pick up and drop @ 0000 hrs IST? Impossible !! Nada, Nope, Nein, Zilch !!

    I’ve spent 15 years in the outsourcing industry and had multiple teams across geographies. And when I hire/recruit – I don’t see Gender, I look for passion-education-grey cells-interpersonal skills-et al. I have had teams with women being 50% and some geos about 75% even. I have never had a problem with either my managers, team leads and EVEN when I was an associate: Girls were just a gender for me and even now they’re nothing more @ workplace. They’re competition, they’re colleagues, they’re support… Never ever can a girl, lady walk up to me and not express their concerns. I apologize when I am made to realize I was wrong and I do that officially and offline. Although, I maintain a few basic rules:
    1. Treat girls with a bit more sensitivity while communicating (only). But treat their work performance @ PAR with your labeled “MEN”…
    2. Always ensure the ladies feel secure and confident in the workplace, to the workplace and from the workplace (security, conveyance, additional sick time).
    3. My first touch was a girl/woman – my mother; my first love was a Girl; my first manager was a girl and she was awesome and is my role model of sorts.

    I am sure what you wrote was something you’ve endured, but I would appreciate you not labeling Women as downtrodden and weak in India. My mother isn’t, my sister isn’t, my lover isn’t, My Current Boss isn’t (Yes, she is Indian and a Lady), My current teams (40%) across the globe aren’t.

    Don’t you dare under that garb (poor women of India) pretend to take off on another plane from the realities of the corporate and some dysfunctional Men who were hassling you at your ‘workplace’. It’s disgusting that they did what they did; more so because you just LAMENTED on being a Woman in India. If you don’t change that thought – I wonder what will happen to my child “if it is a girl” ???

    But, you know what? I don’t give a damn about your laments, because I will teach my girl to ignore MORONS irrespective of Gender !! GoodBye !!

    1. Maneka

      Are you saying that this doesn’t happen in india ? Or are we just not allowed to say it out loud ?

    2. Dipankar Kacharia

      I am sure this happens and it is Aweful… We can write, speak or even sing about it as a person. The moment we make this about the gender, it is a perilous ground we tread on and lament of being a poor woman in India isn’t cutting it. It’s an insult, an assault on the semblance of sensibility itself. I was taken aback by the misery SY has funnelled down our minds with the poor woman card; but read as wow she revolted against “tyranny” and stood up for herself – I mean why wouldn’t anyone stand up for themselves? Why wouldn’t anybody (M/F/X) ?? Step back and think – maybe the story has a flip side (no cabs @ 0000 hrs IST?? Really? And she agreed?? Wow.

    3. Sonali Yadav

      My harassment is related to my performance? Oh! I get that. I never knew.
      The “no cab at 0:00, not NADA and Zilch, it was true!
      YOU always see women as human beings and still hate my lament on a social platform where I have a *right under the constitution* to share my story? Ahh… Plus, how can you “dare” me? Isn’t that a threaten Mr. DK?

      My anger apart, I DARE TO WRITE what is true, because I did not wear the garb willingly(assuming that I did wear a *distressed woman” garb).
      You don’t see woman as a gender? Wow! Because if not, then why most MNCs are trying to capture a ratio of woman employees? Your role models are like my role models. My mother, tried to give me an upbringing where I see equality of men and women and not precedence. Please, I am not labeling women as weak, I am stating that they are “considered” to be weak. There is a difference. Get it?
      Also, you did not realize that whatever I said was not meant for YOU alone. I wouldn’t have *endured* something like that, because unluckily for me, YOU weren’t there.
      Please, I don’t demand respect and definitely not your pity eyes with this article. I demand sensitivity and acceptance that these things exist in India. It does not mean that harassment cannot exist in any other part of the world, it just means that it exists in OUR India, both yours and mine. It was an experience which I tried to share and on which you just saw my unintended “sorry picture”. Look beyond that and see, that I did not generalize men. I never said that it happens in all MNCs. I never declared that every boss is like that. I respect whatever you are doing. Do teach your girl to ignore MORONS, like my father did. If the people of India (including me and you) do not change in due time, you will learn that just “ignoring” is not enough!

      Thanks,
      Sonali

    4. Dipankar Kacharia

      Dear S Y,

      Nope !! Harassment isn’t related to Performance, but the attitude towards anyone IS attributed towards Performance @ workplace.

      Why did you take the transfers and didn’t step up then? The first time you were transferred… You chose to step up on a public platform to do what? Apart from lamenting that you’ve lost your friends and that it was a disaster ?? Truth is a bitter pill (goes to you and for the morons who dealt you those cards)…

      Stop crying over spilt milk and take some action:
      1. Write down the names and designations of those managers and also name the company.
      2. I will make it a mission to ensure they’re left hanging to dry.
      3. I will follow up and engage on your behalf.

      I worked in Gurgaon area and know many folks in the MNC’s management teams and I can assure you this will be a closure for you !!

      It isn’t a mockery of your sensibilities S Y, but Yes it is a dare !! I dare you to come clean and make right what’s going wrong. Crying wolf under the garb of reclusive life and womanhood isn’t going to cut it. You’ve a right to write whatever you want as long as it is fiction – but when you ridicule my industry, It better have solid ground and not some ranting/half hearted appeal in the DARK. I Dare, Do You??

    5. Sonali Yadav

      Sure thing, but I will still not declare their names here. Please inbox me on facebook or mail me at yadav.sonali24@gmail.com.
      I will tell you everything.

      Sonali

    6. Jan

      I would suggest that you don’t get in touch with this person. He doesn’t sound compassionate and the fact that he approaches you with suspicion and anger because you told YOUR OWN STORY doesn’t point to good things. In a situation where you are explicitly told you’re worth less because you’re a woman, I wonder how this guy wants you to read it as anything OTHER than being about your “womanhood” as he puts it? Anyway, his loyalty and commitment seems to be more to his own “field” or whatever rather than to any justice. So I’m guessing he’s ready to poke holes in your story and try to prove you wrong. I think you were daring enough to write anything at all, because it IS difficult to stand up to your bullies especially when they have so much power over you. And just because it was difficult to speak up when it happened, it doesn’t mean you should keep silent about it forever. It’s great that you wrote this! You have nothing to prove to anyone, least of all to this douche.

      Just my opinion 🙂 All the best! And keep writing!

  15. Jojo

    Better be prepared next time:
    www​. kickbully .com
    Is website me kuch na kuch seekhne milega. And tension not, life is not a bed of roses.

  16. The Sorcerer

    I really believe you should mention the company’s name and the individuals involved, at least the first name. If we want to make the change, we have to say something to indicate this place and this person with this position is creating a problem. Many times, senior (than that guy) don’t know what’s happening often because they just see the end result on paper. That’s the problem. Senior personnel will see that freshers from a particular gender eventually quit. They wouldn’t question why unless it becomes too suspicious once someone complained about it.

    My team leader in my second job was a pain, too. I made sure other teams and operation managers knew about it. I quit but eventually, people came up and started complaining, too. The problem isn’t something near compared to yours but the company decided to tell him to put down his papers. I stopped working in companies. I have my own business. Much better since I don’t have to deal with douchebags.

    1. Abhishek Ganguly

      And risk a life long ban? No way.

  17. Abhishek Ganguly

    Sonali you are not alone, even u faced workplace harrasment and almost Sexual assualt multiple times in one of the best company in the world. So called best company. These workplace bullies gang up and torture the best employee. My thoughts are with you and I can relate to the pain and humiliation you had to undergo. You are a survivor, just like me and many others. Just verbally or now even physically slap those who will try to put you down. It’s enough now.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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