New Delhi: A law intern, who has alleged sexual harassment by a recently-retired Supreme Court judge, says she feels "humiliated" and has to constantly justify that she is not lying as the legal system is not equipped to sensitively deal with crimes against women.
She also said the reason for delay in coming out with the sexual harassment allegation was that it took her time to "come to terms with the fact that I had been assaulted".
"When I finally did, all that I wanted to do was to erase the memory from my conscience. This was a man I had admired, I looked up to him," she said in an interview published in The Wall Street Journal.
The intern said she had pondered over the idea of legal recourse, but feared it would do more harm than good. "First, my case would have dragged on for years. Second, defence lawyers would make me relive every violating moment in court something I wanted to bury at the time.
"Third, in cases of assaults, where there is no physical evidence, it`s one`s word against another`s, really. There`s no reason why a law graduate would have won over a judge with a spotless record. Even now, for instance, when I appear before the panel, I feel I`m being looked at with suspicious eye. I have to constantly justify that I`m not lying, I`m not making up this story. I feel humiliated," she said.
She also said it was ironic that she, being a lawyer, "does not think Indian law, or our legal system for that matter, is equipped enough to sensitively deal with crimes against women".
The law graduate, who first made public the allegation by writing her ordeal in a blog, said though she had not expected it to go viral, she was happy that it has caught national attention and triggered broader debates.
The intern had accused the sitting judge, who retired recently, of having misbehaved with her in a hotel room last December when the nation was grappling with the gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman in the capital.
Taking note of her allegation, the apex court had appointed a three-member panel comprising justices RM Lodha, HL Dattu and Ranjana Prakash Desai to look into it. On November 21, the intern had sent certain applications and affidavits to the panel.
The intern said earlier there was guilt and shame attached
to being raped and assaulted. The words were a taboo.
"Now, more and more people are questioning why they should put up with harassment ? on the streets, in their homes, and at their workplaces. `Why should we bear with this? We haven`t done anything wrong,` they say."
The intern added that she had told her family about the harassment five months after the incident in May 2013 and they were also not keen to file a formal complaint.
"When I told my grandmother I was assaulted, she couldn`t understand why I was making a big deal out of it. In fact, she didn`t even think it was wrong. `We have all been harassed at some point or the other,` she (grandmother) would say.
"My mother, meanwhile, said what had happened was indeed wrong, but that I had to accept it and move on. `You don`t have any other option,` she (mother) would say," the intern said.