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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Will India Standup: Mary Rajasekaran is not a celebrity but a simple woman sexually harassed at Loyola College Chennai


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Imagine if this happened to you!

You gave more than a decade of your life in service to an institution that you were proud to be associated with;

You then find out that someone in that institution is embezzling funds in crores. 

You bring this to the notice of the management of the institution. 

The truthfulness you show in the interest of the institution makes you a target for repeated sexual harassment and abuse at the institution by the person whose corruption you exposed to the institution.

You appeal to that institution to save you from the mental torture and sexual harassment which you are facing on a daily basis. Sometimes phone calls late in the night from your oppressor.

The institution continues to act deaf and dumb to your plight because you are a woman and the oppressor a powerful priest protected by the religious cloak he wears and the global religious institution he represents.

You are told not to go the police to complain about your sexual harassment, which is your legal right to do so.

You are repeatedly told not soil the name and goodwill painstakingly earned, which is what would happen if you file a police complaint or make details of your sexual harassment public.

On your complaint that of being a woman facing repeated sexual harassment at the workplace, the institution does not even setup an Internal Complaints Committee, which is a mandatory guideline for all educational institutions in our country to prevent sexual harassment at workplace based on the Vishaka Guidelines.

You find the courage to take the matter to the Madras High Court. The HC issues notices to the accused to respond to your petition filed but for four-years the case has not moved in the HC because the accused have not replied to the HC notices.

You have given your best to the institution but they make you and your family the object of slander and name-shaming after you take the matter to Court.

The Office of the Alumni Association you helped shape and mentor over the years goes completely quiet on your case. They do not support you in your fight because you took on a powerful member heading this Alumni Association and because you questioned the authority of the Loyola College by taking your sexual harassment case to Court. You are made an outcast.

You are alone. Your own people have betrayed you. They use the power and might of the institution to try and break your spirit. 

They try to create a divide in your family because of most the people known and friends are from the same religious community and same institution.

This is the story of Mary Rajasekaran. 

She is woman. She is mother. She is mentor. She has her integrity and her self respect, but this has been violated by a man in a religious cloak protected by the power of a powerful religious institution that no media in India wants to even report the about when it comes to this case of sexual harassment.

She filed a case in the Madras High Court against Father Xavier Alphonse for sexual harassment. In her petition she exposed the questionable actions of the Loyola College and the Office of the Alumni Association.

For four-years her case has made no headway in the Madras High Court because the accused have not even filed a response to her petition. The matter is being deliberately dragged on in an attempt to break her resolve.

Mary Rajasekaran is no different from a Tanushree Datta or millions of women who came out during the #MeToo campaign to tell the world their story of sexual harassment and sexual abuse at workplace. 

The only difference is that for the case of Tanushree Datta and some others, media came out blazing fighting for justice because it involved an actor or producer or a politician but in Mary Rajasekaran case, the victim is a Catholic and the sexual harasser is a Catholic priest representing a powerful educational institution – the Loyola College and and even more powerful priestly order – The Jesuits.

Mary Rajasekaran is a woman that was sexually harassed by a man in power. That is the only truth. 

Her religion and the religion of her sexual harasser is immaterial. Their place of work in eyes of the law is also immaterial. She was an employee of an institution and her sexual harasser was a man of power in that institution.

I have decided to fight for this #MeToo case inside a Christian educational institution. I hope the people of India join me in this fight for Mary Rajasekaran just as many joined in the #MeToo.


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