I worked with Manik as an intern in 2012

I worked with Manik as an intern in 2012. He had just started his magazine then but it was picking up well. He asked me to come over his house to discuss the internship and from talking about my work, he suddenly jumped to the topic of when had i last had sex and since I thought he was just trying to be cool and friendly I decided to tell him that it had been several months.

Next thing i know, he sat beside me on the bed and asked me if I’d like t give him a blow job. When I refused and resumed talking about my work. he pretended to take it nicely but since that moment, he started bossing me around. would bark orders and constantly remind me that i am incompetent or not doing well enough. If i ever mention the prospect of money, he always said I was not producing enough. fianlly when I threw in the towel, he had the gall to tell me that he won’t give me a good recommendation because I was tardy and basically talked back to him. i told him that I didn’t need his recommendation and he could keep it. I defreinded him and since then, never had any communication from him.

I worked as a graphic designer for Emaho in 2012.

I worked as a graphic designer for Emaho in 2012. I lived in Bombay at the time and I had never met the Manik. He was a demanding boss to say the least. I finally quit when I got another job and moved to Delhi. I was never on “friendly” terms with him. But, he knew I had moved to the same city as him so he kept messaging and calling under the pretext of work. So, I finally went to meet him after work. Being young, naive and alone in a new city, I was an easy target I guess. He offered me a drink. I said no. He coerced me into drinking saying “Don’t be a prude. Just relax!” Its scary how much it seems like a modus operandi now. He made a pass at me and I told him I’m uncomfortable. I do not want to do this. I told him I have a boyfriend. This is not okay. I said I want to leave. He said have another drink and he’ll drop me home. It got really late and I knew I couldn’t go back to the PG which was pretty far away. I had never felt so alone and scared. It was quite traumatic. I had cheated on my boyfriend. I was ashamed. I had bruises on my lips. I wish I could have done something then. All I ended up doing was blocking him on all my social media. That night, ruined my relationship. I felt disgusted with myself. I never thought he would ever be held accountable for his actions. I thought never letting myself get into such a situation would be enough. But, its not. I’m done being a bystander.

the very active presence of sexual harassment in my interactions with Manik

I came across Aritry’s post yesterday and thought, fuck. Power to that woman. Not only is she brave enough to speak up against him, she’s brave enough to fight off the thousands of horrendous comments that will no doubt come her way, by the women who feel that Aritry’s words highlight something about their own actions that they don’t want threatened, or can’t come to terms with… and the men who feel that women should be silenced… Possibly by their cock. Or Manik’s.

My second thought was… but my experience of Manik’s was not horrid, like hers. He didn’t explicitly try and force sex on me. He didn’t physically force his body on me. But only after reading some of the blog posts did I realise that psychologically, he still had his hands and mouth bound around me.

Manik spent two years occasionally messaging me on Facebook. I didn’t know who he was, at all. He made sure he covered that through interspersing statements about my kissable lips and invitations to his home in the mountains [insert dreamy hipstamatic imagery of lush rolling hills and cloud-filled skies in perfectly matched shades of blue and green], with links about articles he’s written, grants he’s funded, panels he’s judged, and well renowned photographers he’s interviewed. Because, for a young, non-established photographer, there’s no better way of saying, do as I say, and play how I wanna play… than through the very strategic insertion of those links. (Aka. Look how big my photography-industry-penis is).

So, every time he made a  “Yes I’m a massive flirt, but you’re just so stunning” comment that made me squirm and want to peel off my own skin, I never shut it down. I would laugh it off… and hope for the best. Because the difference between saying “BACK THE FUCK OFF, COWBOY.” and, “Haaaaha, but what! You barely know me!” is a matter of safety. Keeping this man’s erections unscathed meant keeping my career in photography intact. Because one knock to that very well-connected man’s ego could mean one giant blow to my… everything.

The worst part is, I’d like to say that after realising the very active presence of sexual harassment in my interactions with Manik, I’d make different choices, should this happen again. But, while there is still a giant imbalance of power in a very male gender preferred and dominated industry, and still questions around safety if no real structure exists to protect me… I can’t even say, for sure, that I would.