Actor Swara Bhaskar has revealed she was sexually harassed by a director but it took her nearly six to eight years to realise what had happened as the culture doesn’t teach women to recognise predatory behaviour.
Swara, without taking any names, said the harassment happened at workplace and the director was being “predatory.”
“It took me 6-8 years to realise when I heard someone else talk about their experience of harassment at a panel discussion like this. I was like God, what happened to me 3 years ago was actually sexual harassment at workplace! I never realised it because, like you said, I escaped. Because the person did not touch me and I managed to ward it off,” Swara said.
“I would just tell myself that this director is being… whatever, but that is not the full truth. The director was not being an idiot or an a**, he was being a predator,” she added.
Swara was speaking at a panel discussion on the life of Harvey Weinstein at &PriveHD’s Prive Soiree. Actor Dia Mirza and documentarian Anand Patwardhan were also part of the discussion.
The actor said she wasn’t able to recognise that pattern or behaviour because as a culture “we do not teach our girl children to recognise predatory behaviour for what it is.”
“There is so much of culture of silence, around sexuality in India, around the issue of sexual harassment, actually not just In India, everywhere around the world, that we are just going through our lives without recognising it properly. We just recognise the discomfort.”
Before moving to Mumbai, Swara lived with her parents in Delhi, who had a university background, and so was very aware of things, but said “the real world is the world.”
She said she came to the film industry thinking if someone dares to proposition her, she will show them her “upbringing and values” but nothing of this sort had happened.
“It is really sad, because then slowly I began to realise that I am just not recognising it. Because we are so inured to handle and manage things. Since childhood, if anything happens there is no one to tell you that this is sexual harassment,” she said.
The Veere Di Wedding actor said women avoid taking legal route because they face a hostile society.
“First of these things are completely inhospitable and a hostile society and a culture actively or subconsciously enable predators… We should use this moment to not just talk about the one predator that got caught.”
“We should also talk about the culture that enables these predators to reach the position of power they do. So, it’s also a question of making ourselves aware of many things that go into legitimising predatory behaviour,” she added.