Lawyer, judge and aam aadmi

First it was Rupan Bajaj from Punjab, then a woman officer in Kerala; and we learnt that senior women civil servants are as vulnerable to sexual harassment as ordinary women in ordinary workplaces. Also, that nothing separates top cops and ministers from the common man, save the assumption of impunity by the former. Women blew the lid on male impunity, rupturing it in ways that sent waves of shock down the habitations of the common man — ‘a super cop who has done signal service to the country to be treated as an ordinary criminal for a moment’s exuberance with a charming working woman’ was the way Gill’s misdemeanours were described. This was followed by Bhanwari Devi’s memorable but distressing struggle against the assault by upper caste landlords which resulted in the Vishakha judgment of the Supreme Court: Justice Verma’s court ruled against sexual harassment in the workplace setting out guidelines for all workplaces and mandating that protections be put in place. This was the year 1997.

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