An IAS officer who allegedly faced sexual harassment by a Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission official shared the trauma she had to go through not just by the perpetrator but by the country’s judicial system as well, saying “so called ‘officers of the court’ are more keen to teach me my place as a woman than to help me assert my rights and get justice.”
“Idiots are lined up at every step,” Riju Bafna said in a post on Facebook that has since gone viral.
A trainee IAS officer in Madhya Pradesh, Bafna had filed a sexual harassment complaint against a MP Human Rights Commission official for sending her lewd messages.
While her police complaint led to the immediate removal of the officer, her traumatic experience didn’t end there. Bafna claims that when she approached the Judicial Magistrate to record her statement, she asked that lawyers present in the court room leave, as she was not comfortable speaking in their presence.
“I requested the Hon’ble Judicial Magistrate to kindly allow me in camera recording of statement. Even before the Court had decided on my request, an advocate, who happened to be standing there, started screaming at me as to how dare I make such a request. He started using very rude language and said that I might be an IAS officer in my office but this was his Court and he was not leaving.”
Bafna adds that she told the lawyer she wanted privacy not as an IAS officer, but as a woman reliving the horrible experience of sexual harassment. “But probably this advocate was more interested in demeaning me than facilitating justice against perpetrator of sexual harassment,” she says.
Further, when she expressed her concerns to the Judicial Magistrate, who she claims was a mute spectator to the abuse she faced inside his courtroom, he dismissed them saying she was young.
“When I said to Judicial Magistrate that he should be careful of presence of other people when a woman is giving statement under sexual harassment case, he said that you are young and that’s why demanding such things.”
In her letter to the authorities, she questions what ordinary women would be going through if a woman with a supposedly privileged post of an IAS officer has to face such apathy and insensitivity inside a court.
In an earlier version of her post, she had said, “I can only hope no woman is born in this country,” but she corrected it saying, “I wrote that line in the spur of moment and I regret blaming the country for the fault of individuals.”