indian women working woman sexual harassment Indian workplace

It Was My Dream Job, And Then One Day My Boss Put His Hand On My Thigh

( words)
*For representational purpose only.

I am a 32-year-old single woman, working in the retail industry. A couple of years back, I moved from my hometown to Mumbai for work, and I got the job interview through a reference. I was selected, and it was supposed to be my dream job. I joined my new company and was looking to learn new things and grow. After moving to Mumbai, my reporting boss started taking me out for site visits, he tried to get friendly with me. Once when we were in his car, while chatting up, slowly he kept his hand on the seat where I was sitting. And then he started brushing his hand on my thigh, I felt awkward and thought that maybe it's by mistake and he didn't intend to do it.

Then when while we were talking, somehow he came close and stared touching my breast with his elbow, I moved as many times as I could, again assuming it was by mistake. But he started repeating this behavior and making a pattern out of it.

I started finding excuses to avoid going on visits with him but he started pin-pointing on my work. He continued touching my breasts, in the office, and I let myself believe that it's by mistake even after being repeated so many times. I couldn’t identify that it was inappropriate because I hadn’t experienced anything like it before. But as he noticed that I wasn't reciprocating or paying attention to his behaviour, he started yelling and humiliate me at my workplace, and it was a shocker for me to go through this whole thing.

After spending 3 months in misery, I went to our HR head and consciously, I spoke to him on friendly terms. I pretended this was someone else’s story and took advice from him, on the case.

The HR gave this solution: "the girl should yell at him or show some aggression in return". I couldn't do it. Meanwhile, my reporting manager started complaining about my work, a lot. He would unnecessarily document petty things. Again, after about a month, I went to the HR again and clearly stated that the person is me, and I don't know how to handle this. I told him I do not wish to make an official complain, as my reporting manager has started documenting emails for my underperformance. I tried to let go of things and hoped that it will stop but, it continued. There were times when my boss and I went for tea, and I said to him that I don't want to leave the job, that I need to work. He gave me a condition "You know what I want and how many times I have told you this indirectly, but you don't understand. Which other language should I speak in to tell you what I want from you?"

He once took me for coffee, and there he said to me, "I am a friendly person. I even talk about sex, so you should be open when speaking to me.” I said, that is not possible, as I don’t have it in me to talk about sex to my boss.

Time went by, and his harassment didn't stop. Neither did I complain, knowing it will turn on me. I cried in front of my HR head, and he narrated an instance when he once stood for a woman’s right. On my last day at work, the HR’s assistant came to me and asked my why I didn't complain. I said, “I was going through a lot, and I was alone in this whole matter. I couldn't tell my family, as I didn't want them to worry.” My reporting manager is a married man, and he was expecting his second child while I was working there. And I thought that if I complain, he might lose his job and his family. And so, I simply resigned. But the female HR who was consoling me on my last day of work, and not before, somehow managed to ask me questions that made me look guilty. When I look back today, I know in my heart that I was weak. I was not strong enough to face it. I was frightened as to what might happen.

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