a difference of opinion

A:     It worries me, Sadiq. Just how easy it can be to destroy somebody's reputation. Should he be given the benefit of the doubt? It’s not a small label to carry around forever.

S:     Well, that’s the thing with sexual harassment. It can be defined as broadly as the victim wants. Mild transgressions count too. It hinges on consent. Even touching someone’s shoulder to one count of Mississippi.

A:     But... I just... something is missing here. Look, he’s been defended by most of his colleagues- all of them respected, smart people. His picture is all over the papers. His identity, his name. All this without any conviction or real proof of guilt?

S:     Yes, but why does the onus of proof have to be on the victim?

A:     Was she a victim?… Okay, I feel uncomfortable even saying that.

S:     An institution has to have ethics and integrity. Maybe its not just one person, but a problem that exists in the entire system.

A:     We’re willing to blame the whole faculty, but not raise a question over the girl’s story? Isn’t that just a part of intellectual debate? To get to the bottom of things? Why should it be so taboo to ask reasonable questions without sounding like an insensitive chauvinist?

S:     Because every single day women tolerate serious and mild sexual transgressions against their gender. Most of them will never raise a voice or tell anyone because our system works against them. I’m blaming the system. It’s institutionalised sexism and it exists everywhere in the world in male and female attitudes towards women. Just look around us. I have to admit though, I didn’t expect victim blaming from this lot of professionals.

A:     Well, no body here is acting like a bloody professional at all, are they?