Lawyer and artist create book to explain Sexual Harassment Act
A lawyer and an artist create a book to explain the Sexual Harassment Act
Iillustrations from the book
Advocate Rahul Mhaskar, in the 23 years of his career, has handled only one case of sexual harassment at the work place. To him, the sparse numbers were indicative of how far from hunky dory things were. Because even in the presence of a strong law, and the numerous cases of sexual harassment he'd unofficially hear of, women are still not approaching the law to tackle this menace. This observation prompted him to work on his book, Act 14 of 2013, a slim illustrative volume of 50 pages that breaks down the Act for the layman. Mhaskar says, "All my life I've only encountered fat, formidable volumes of law books, something that the layman would never want to read. So, legislations that are made for men and women are not reaching the target audience, because they are not presented in a reader-friendly manner. Keeping this in mind, I have come up with this book. The size is such that it can easily slip into a working woman's bag. She can read it while on the train, so that she does not have to cull out time for it during a busy day. One cannot expect her to go through 500 pages of a book to understand the definition and laws regarding sexual harassment." It is not a complicated volume, he adds, but one which a person with a very basic knowledge of English would understand. Interestingly, the text is interspersed with illustrations, to make the subject seem less formidable. "So, even if someone who can't read English, can understand just by following the pictures," he adds.
The illustrations have been done by Shirish Shrikant Ghatge, who's doing his masters in animation and film design from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. Mhaskar read out the entire Act to Ghatge, so the latter had a clear understanding of what was required of the visuals. "I have tried to depict the text through characters — one of the employer and the other, of the person who is being harassed. Characters have the power to make anything relatable. And, to make such a heavy subject palatable, one needs a narrative, I feel. The aim is to make the reader visualise the process," says the 24-year old, who has deliberately played it out in monochrome. "The use of colours would have taken away from the seriousness of the text."
Shirish Shrikant Ghatge
All the proceeds from the sales of the book (reasonably priced at Rs 135), will go to Hammurabi Tablet, a forum of free knowledge resource for budding lawyers. Mhaskar tells us that even within the legal community, he has not been shown much support for the work. "Tomorrow, if a potential perpetrator sees this book on his female colleague's desk, he will know that she's aware of the laws, and therefore might back off. That is the change I am looking to bring in," Mhaskar says.
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