Sona Mohapatra has never been known to mince her words. She’s always been bold enough to speak her mind without fear and tell it like it is. Previously, the singer wrote a striking post slamming IIT-B for asking her to ‘get a man’ to perform on stage. Further to which, she gave it back hard to a troll who tried to reason that she didn’t have enough chartbusters to be the headline act.
Sona Mohapatra recently wrote a Facebook post in which she has a lot to say about the sexual harassment allegations against TVF founder, Arunabh Kumar. She specifically addresses the question, why many of these women came forward anonymously citing her own fate after she wrote that striking open letter about the organisers of the Mood Indigo college fest.
Here’s what she has to say:
On my way back from this very concert in Bengaluru, I read about the serial sexual harassment story of ‘The Viral Fever’ & ‘Arunabh Kumar’. Yet another workplace of males on top, of a possible boys club like the million boys clubs around the world. One tweet about it immediately brought about the usual responses-
1) It’s not proven yet. So don’t judge him or TVF as a company.
2) Why did the woman write anonymously & why so late etc. Why not go to the police.
3) As per another woman employee of TVF, such an employee never existed & she, in fact, vouches for the ‘La La Land’ that the TVF workplace is & maybe it is.
Meanwhile, I now gather from various other networks that these stories about how women were harassed in TVF have been doing the rounds for the longest time in the WhatsApp circles here in Mumbai.
So what exactly is the truth?
Just sharing some observations – 1) The first response to these allegations from the company TVF is a threat??!!
“We will leave no stone unturned to find the author of the article and bring them to severe justice for making such false allegations.”
2) Many more women apart from the first anonymous blogger ‘Indian Fowler’ have since then come forward to share similar stories of sexual harassment by the same person, in the same workspace. 9 in the last count I’m told. All of them cooking up such stories?
3) I also read a cover story & interview with Arunabh in the papers today, asking the concerned woman to go to the ‘police’. Again, police. ?
Now comes my very own experience & its for you all to connect the dots. Most I know must’ve already stopped reading this long post by now.
1) I haven’t had a single Bollywood song release last year & even in ‘Raees’ which was a soundtrack on which I was the EP, had enough & more people who made sure my voice was ‘blocked’ out. There is no doubt about the fact that women like me, ‘need to be put in their place’.
2) Not a single IIT or college campus for that matter has hosted me & my band this concert season after the open letter that I wrote about how Mood I & most college festivals, mostly propagate the ‘male is supreme’ adage & women can mostly be ‘decorative/glam add-ons’ to a lineup.
The Mood I coordinator, in fact, had the temerity to post on my public timeline that I should suggest a few names of worthy female headliners in India, cus he didn’t know of many. Beta, I’m not here to ‘spoon-feed’ you I say to him, the rest of you reading this post could possibly pass him a list of worthy female performers? The director of IIT? Professors? No one thought it worthy to even have an open conversation or reply to the facts of 30 years that I’d presented about their testosterone celebration festival.
College event organisers share that, getting my band into the circuit as a solo female lead will be even more difficult now. I’m seen as a ‘trouble maker’. Best they can do is pitch for RamSonaLive. (Of course at the cost & same price of SonaLive, a brand I’ve built over the decade )
Can you even imagine the plight of the ‘Indian Fowler’ woman in the TVF case if she were to reveal her name?? Would anyone ever give her a job? Ever?
3) I woke up yesterday morning from yet another recurring nightmare I’ve had since my teens. One in which I am in a smelly, derelict police station connected to a courthouse in my hometown Cuttack. I’ve been violated repeatedly by 10 men through a window, through the bars, with their hands entering me, hurting me earlier but no one, not one person either helps or believes me. The fact that that they use their hands doesn’t even make it a valid violation of my body. I keep screaming for my father to come & when he does, don’t think he’d believe me either. Meanwhile, I am dragged around on stinky shit & drenched sanitary napkins..the real thing. There’s a lot more but this is kind of too disgusting to even be able to describe properly here & I am sure, it’s not even appropriate. Truth is that this is the energy & environment that I have experienced around me. It is the energy that has shaped me, my relationship with most men, my sexuality & my defence mechanisms, all of it stems from this violence of unfairness that surrounds me.
In India, it’s not just gender but gender is surely my focus area. I am aware of caste, poverty, nepotism, power structures that need to change but that’s another post for another day.
I am asking for a change in gender politics & how we treat women.
I demand a change.
I am asking for all of you to connect the dots.
I know that enough of you care.
Caring isn’t enough, though.
Fighting the good fight needs more than that. It starts in the mind, heart, in conversations, debates & sharing such & then has to result in actions. Has to.
(P.S I spent long hours & days in the police station during the Salman trolling & threats episode, nothing came off of it. Nothing.)
In her original post, she continues to speak on various other topics as well. You can check that out here.
Let’s be honest. No matter how progressive a society we consider ourselves to be, a majority of our workplaces don’t promulgate the equal treatment of men and women. We still find women not being taken seriously at meetings or not receiving a professional response on emails or not having a say at all in critical decisions. This suppression could potentially develop a fear in the woman’s mind. After that, when she’s faced with an ordeal like sexual harassment, her first response is seldom to speak out about it. Which is sad.
As Sona Mohapatra changed, the way we treat women at the workplace needs to change. Gender equality in social as well as professional spheres is the need of the hour.