AMWA hosts panel for sexual assault awareness month

MJ Routh | Multimedia Photographer

By Rachel Badger | Guest Contributor

One doesn’t have to look very far to see the ramifications of sexual harassment, either someone knows a person who has been sexually harassed or they themselves have personally been impacted.

Houston senior Abha Adhikari knows harassment all too well. While working at a jewelry store this past Christmas break, she met a customer who would later threaten her because she refused to go on a date with him. That instance left her shaken and is a moment that will impact her for years to come.

Adhikari told her story “#MeToo” story at an event organized by the American Medical Women’s Association to shed light on sexual assault and harassment against women. Across the country, organizers have hosted similar events during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and on the heels of the #MeToo movement, the conversation seems more urgent than ever.

“It’s so important to understand that when I say ‘no’, or when any woman says ‘no’, it means ‘no’,” Adhikari said. “I shared my story because I wanted people to know that it happens to everybody and there isn’t a perfect victim.”

Adhikari said a man accompanied by two friends walked into the jewelry store she worked at during the holidays and summers. Adhikari noticed that something was off among the three men; one had stumbled in and the other two seemed on edge as the trio entered the store.

“I notified the store owner that I was going to help the men, but asked him to keep an eye on them,” Adhikari said.

As soon as Adhikari walked over, she noticed that the most outspoken one of the group was staring at her chest. This seemed odd to Adhikari because it was November; she was dressed in a sweater and was completely covered.

She said the man made crude remarks about her appearance as she showed him gold necklaces that he was interested in. Adhikari just brushed the comments off, telling herself that there was a sales quota to fill and this wasn’t anything new. He bought a few items and told her he’d be back.

The man returned a week later without his friends and it didn’t take him long to ask her on a date. He told Adhikari that he would buy a necklace only if she agreed to go out for a steak and shrimp dinner with him.

When Adhikari refused, she said the man became filled with rage and began to spew insults and curses at her. He then threatened Adhikari, telling her she would have to leave the store eventually and that the other men he had first walked into the store with would take care of this.

Adhikari notified mall security and was escorted to her car every day for a week after closing.

“I think the prevailing emotion was embarrassment and fear,” Adhikari said. “After he left I was ridden with anxiety, and was probably shaking for a long time.”

Flower Mound junior Krupa George is the president of America Medical Women’s Association at Baylor. George and a friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, came up with the idea for the panel after George’s friend was assaulted this past summer.

Portland, Ore., junior Janani Srikanth is the vice president of American Medical Women’s Association, advocated for George.

“Krupa was like ‘I think that we should make this an AMWA event, this is so relevant right now and there are so many people talking about it,’” Srikanth said. “Everyone has a story and I think that we need to share it on a platform.”

American Medical Women’s Association hosted a panel this week where Baylor students could anonymously submit their survivor stories about being sexually harassed. The officers of American Medical Women’s Association stood in front of the room and read these submissions aloud. Some of the stories were submitted anonymously and read by another person, others were read aloud by the victims themselves. Adhikari, the Public Relations and Recruitment Chair of American Medical Women’s Association, had her story shared in front of the audience by Srikanth.

This panel was not only important to victims of sexual assault, but also those who were friends of the survivors.

“It’s important to me because I have known more people that have been raped than I have fingers on my hands,” said Omaha, Neb., junior Elizabeth Drews, American Medical Women’s Association social chair. “It’s easy for you to think that it happens to other people, but not in your own community. But because a lot of these stories were from the Baylor community, I think it helps people to realize that these are people that are walking on this campus.”