Editor’s note: Over 92% of women in India experience some form of harassment, yet, we hesitate to speak up. To help create safe spaces for conversations around these experiences, Youth Ki Awaaz and Breakthrough India have come together to encourage more individuals to speak out and support one another. The piece below is a part of this collaboration. We ask people everywhere to come, #StandWithMe.
I don’t know what to do, I am helpless and I am too confused to make any decisions. One incident that had happened in my house has shaken me up to this extent. And the worst part of all is that I don’t know whom to ask for help.
When nobody was home, my father in-law molested the new cook who was appointed just a week before. After the disgusting incident, he gave her money and asked her to shut up about this or be prepared to face repercussions. She decided to resist his inappropriate advances (which were many in number) and ran away from there to avoid the sexual abuse.
Unfortunately, due to her bad financial situation she had to rejoin but this time she decide to inform my mother-in-law – his wife – about the revolting abuse that she had to face.
Shockingly, they all kept mum.
After two or three weeks when I was being friendly with my aged cook she spoke openly to me about everything and that is when I got to know what was happening under the same roof that I share.
I was absolutely shocked. But that was just me. Everybody else in the family, including my husband, decided to remain silent and have stuck to that stance ever since. I cannot even keep my eyes closed as I try to come to terms with utmost difficulty that is indeed my father in-law who has done this in our house. To call it disgusting is putting it mildly!
My mother-in-law doesn’t seem to express the slightest of apprehensions so much so that she can go out leaving him at home leaving me at home to take care of him.
“He is so old. Sathiya gaya hai buddha (The old man has gone senile). Do you really think he planned to do this?” said my husband when I confronted him about not speaking up.
How and whom shall I trust? How can I proceed to make sure that my father in-law has changes his ways? Shouldn’t he at least be a little ashamed of what he has done? So many questions to which I have no answers.
I am crying inside. Injustice is what has happened to this woman.
And this happened in my house and I feel like I can’t do anything about it.
If you’d like to share your own experiences – from dealing with everyday sexism and gender stereotyping, to period shaming, harassment and abuse , do share your stories using #StandWithMe, and help take this important conversation forward.