Bollywood actress Swara Bhaskar has revealed that it took her nearly six to eight years to realise that she was being sexually harassed by a director. She believes that Indian 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 ass, 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, 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." 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 endured 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 is completely inhospitable and hostile society and a culture that actively or sub-consciously enables predators... We should use this moment to not just talk about the one predator that got caught and got glamourised.
"But 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.
(With PTI inputs)