Sexual harassment does not see position or boundaries. This unpleasant reality was validated yet again after a young IAS officer from Madhya Pradesh filed a case of sexual harassment against a senior Government official for obscenity.
Born in September, 1998, Riju Bafna (from Chhattisgarh) was given allotment as an IAS officer in 2014. She had filed a case against Aayogmitra of MP Human Rights Commission, Santosh Chaubey, for sending "indecent messages" last week. Following an FIR against Chaubey, Seoni district collector Bharat Yadav took swift action and removed him from the position.
But Bafna's real frustration was the difficulty she faced while registering the case against Chaubey in the court. As elaborated in her two posts on Facebook, Bafna states, "As a young woman facing the Court for the first time in a sensitive matter of sexual harassment, I realized why women do not want to come out in the open and report sexual harassment cases. The entire experience was horrible and traumatic...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."
She further states that despite the seriousness of her complaint, the Judicial Magistrate handling her case told her off by saying, "he remarked that I was a young, new recruit on first posting, which was why I had these expectations of privacy and that I would get to know the system and Courts with time and get done away with such demands." This goes on to show the apathy of the public towards sexual harassment of any kind.
In one of her earlier posts, the trainee bureaucrat had mentioned, "I can only pray that no woman is born in this country...Idiots are lined up at every step." But she later removed the words and clarified in another post, "I wrote that line in the spur of moment and I regret blaming the country for the fault of individuals."
The failure of the judiciary in ensuring justice in this case is summed up by her statement, "the 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." The original post already been shared more than 1,500 times on Facebook.