The state of women’s safety in our country, is no news. It’s tough. It’s bad. But on top of all of that, it’s scary – because we are in times where we find ways to justify crimes and violence. So, where we expect justice, we’re handed victim blaming. There are other cases where people shun victims, because apparently, we’d rather let bad things happen than get into the ‘drama’ of correcting them. The ‘Taarak Mehta…’ debacle and Jennifer Mistry comes to mind. The actress, among other artists on the show, spoke up, but the after effects are something we saw coming.

Jennifer Mistry

Jennifer Mistry had opened up about incidents of abuse and verbal harassment by the makers. To think that this is the real picture of the sets of a so-called ‘family-friendly’ show is deeply disturbing. Not that abuse is justified or ‘normal’ for anyplace, but this is probably the last thing we imagined the ‘Taarak Mehta…’ sets as. After her allegations, the makers and the producer denied all claims. This turned into a he said, she said situation, despite the fact that there were other artists who complained about similar misdemeanor.

To say that we KNOW what happened is another thing. But we need to acknowledge what happened after. Instead of a proper, deep investigation into the matter and of the sets, the show continues to come up with new episodes each day. Jennifer Mistry, and other women (and men) who spoke up, have to keep reiterating these incidents to different people and media outlets. This is also the only way they can get their point across.

Jennifer Mistry

We hardly talk about how such issues fizzle out, and the impact the “fizzling” has on future victims. When Jennifer Mistry talked about her experience, we called out the producer and the makers for a few days, weeks probably. And then we stopped, or we will, eventually. We will also forget what the person did (if they did it), and so many people will never even find out about it because he’d still be working. Even minting money.

Recently, Jennifer, who played Roshan on the popular show, shared how people in her housing society have started avoiding her, ever since she came out with the allegations. She also mentioned that there is no update on the case that was filed against Asit Kumarr Modi. Now, it’s important that she opened up about the incidents on the show. This raises awareness about the toxicity on workplaces and the sexual misconduct that goes unnoticed. It also serves as a warning for the makers, and other people who might be associated with similar practices – to well, behave. But we also need to look at what it does to the victim.

Asit Kumarr Modi

When it comes to incidents of abuse, it’s always very tricky – which it shouldn’t be. We do not need diplomacy in dealing with crimes. People who come forward and share their stories are made to deal with a lot more than the trauma of the incident itself. Like that isn’t enough. There’s whataboutery, victim blaming, inaction and the shunning out from society. We talk about everything under the sun, but the impact of abuse on the victims – and the punishment for the abuser. That comes in last, at a point when the victim starts regretting opening up.

Every time a survivor gathers the courage to speak up, someone else gives them a reason to regret speaking up. Or if not, our society serves as an example of how saying something, anything, is not the best idea. Imagine dealing with the trauma of abuse, and having to go through it all over again, only to deal with people treating you like the “problem”. And that also answers, “Why didn’t you say anything?” Because, saying anything hardly ever ends well. And anyone would rather choose peace.

When it comes to workplaces, there’s also power play involved, where the abuser gets to keep leading their normal lives. And the victim ends up with no work or connections. Jennifer Mistry’s case is one example. Women already get tagged as ‘difficult’ every time they choose to take a stand. So, to come forward and say that some powerful men were wrong, is brave. But it’s also so scary.

Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah

Now you tell me, why would anyone want to ‘say anything’?