October 2017: Part of a series of interviews Sowmya Rajaram and I conduct of survivors of gender violence.
In 2015, Greenpeace India was rocked by allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. At the centre of it all was a blog post written by this former employee.
When Sonam, a multiple-rape survivor, joined Greenpeace at their Bengaluru office in 2012, a senior colleague sexually harassed her. She complained to HR—but her complaint was not taken seriously, although the man was known to be a repeat offender. So when another colleague raped her a year later, she was unable to report it to the police or to her employers. “How could I, when the process had failed me once already?" Depressed, she resigned a few months later.
In February 2015, two years after the assault, she finally gained the courage to speak about the episode on social media, as well as about the systemic violence she had faced. It was a decision that would change her life.
She says that therapy helped her understand that what happened to her was not her fault, and allowed her to go public. She weathered the victim shaming, and has even used the title of a hateful blog written about her—Spoilt Modern Indian Woman—as the name of the feminist collective she started on Facebook. She also founded an NGO called Azaadi that helps organisations develop a proactive approach to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Today, for the first time on camera, the ‘Greenpeace Girl’ speaks to Sowmya Rajaram of her difficult journey from victim to survivor… and activist.
Videography- Rahul Deshpande | Production- Jacob Cherian & Priyanka Sutaria | Editing- Poulomi Roy
This interview appeared on Pass the Mic, the blog of Why Indian Men Rape in October 2017.