~ Priya Tamma
One of the things that drew me to the field of ecology was the allure of conducting field research, and thus staying in and around, some of the most beautiful landscapes we have around us. Even before I started, I dreamt of all that I would experience – the utter darkness of the night, the constant non-silence as birds, insects and animals called out, the freedom of being alone in such places. However, when I went to field, I realised the ground realities could be quite harsh and different. Fieldwork, especially in remote spaces, usually is a team activity that requires us to work with team members and rely on local field assistants. We spend so much time together, bearing witness to the same beautiful sights and distressing events that we may often forge a strong bond. However, sometimes, there are lines that are crossed, trust that is broken. What do we then?
Dealing with sexual harassment when on field becomes particularly hard. The priorities should be to get people to safety, away from the threat they face or perceive, to examine the issue and hopefully to deliver justice. These are long drawn processes. Often we don’t even reach here. Many victims of harassment aren’t sure they will be believed, or are not sure if what they went through constitutes harassment. They are not sure what to do when they face these situations in field – whom to call, what to do to remove themselves from the situation. In this context, I think you will agree that it is so important for everyone to be made aware of sexual harassment policies of their work-place or organization. Upfront and not retrospectively. So we all know where the lines may be, and what to do in case such situations do arise.
This mini-series focuses on this issue.
In the first post, Vera E. Congruent shares her experience with us. Eloquent and hard-hitting, I hope it will make us all sit up and discuss sexual harassment policies within our work-places.
In the second post, Vera discusses the lasting effects of these traumatic experiences on her psyche. I say experiences, because there are many that she has faced.