The accusation made by the anonymous post going by the name Indian Fowler is yet to be proven true, but the way it has panned out raises two important questions - a reason why women avoid raising sexual harassment complaints and the need for stringent rules in startup culture. It also shows how some people bear the brunt of supporting the complainant.
An anonymous post isn't enough to prove someone guilty, and according to TVF, didn't require an investigation. The Viral Fever refuted it completely and instead threatened to take legal action against the person. However, soon many women came forward with their horrid experiences with the Arunabh Kumar, CEO, TVF. It should be noted that most of these women wrote from their official handles and the least TVF could do is set up an investigation to dig deeper into the matter.
Here's another story, among the many others, accusing the TVF CEO.
Once, the post on Medium went live, this was the reply from TVF.
Read it word by word and it is nothing but a perfect mix of denial and threat. "We will leave no stone unturned," it said. It outright refutes the claims and threatens the complainant about the legal power that can be used to prove her wrong. To make it worse there were questions like why now? what were you waiting for? and so on by some Twitterati. And, we wonder why women don't easily report sexual assault! The least the company could have done is a right response, that would call for a fair investigation.
Nidhi Bisht of TVF who called it a 'fictitious allegation', soon had to change the stance as multiple women started sharing their stories. She then claimed to be 'completely shocked'.
This isn't the first such incident from the startup world as we've seen similar instances at bigger companies, the most recent one being Uber. Startups have to implement stronger rules to ensure such incidents can be reported promptly and a stringent investigation can be done. TVF's response to the incident, putting the CEO above the company, and a totally tasteless response has done it more harm than it expected.
A Guardian report points out how bro-code is prioritised over sexual harassment in the company and the Susan Fowler post will vouch for it. It is no different in India. As Indian Fowler writes, "I walk up to my bosses and tell them that i dont want to see him, they would say then walk out. I tell (Navin) Kasturia that this is what has happened, and he laughs off. Says “Duniya hai. Hota hai” I just wished i could kill myself." The plea goes on deaf ears, loss of job, power and money, helplessness and various factors come to the forefront.
Amit Golani tweeted: The sad part is facts are no longer relevant as long as people get their dose of 'schadenfreude'. People will realise the truth but too late
There are many others from the community came in support of at least starting an investigation as so many women wouldn't begin lying simultaneously.
In fact, looks like Joshi had to bear the brunt of supporting Indian Fowler and raising his against its competitor.
An unverified user put out a post accusing AIB star Rohan Joshi of sexual harassment over an incident that happened year ago. Within two hours, the post was pulled out and he or she apologised for the post and said what a great guy Rohan is. You must be wondering what is happening? Well, the user further explains the reason for doing - Indian Fowler shouldn't be believed. "The incident never happened and @mojorojo is a great guy. I just wanted to expose the 'schadenfreude' in today's world (hence the username) am really sorry for anyone whom I hurt," he or she said.
This post further shows how sexual harassment was turned into a joke by a mindless user just to prove a point. It was as tasteless as the strong worded statement put out by TVF. While we talk about zero tolerance and other fancy words, we are still circling around victim shaming and ignorance. And, we wonder why women don't report such cases immediately.