THIRTEEN STUDENTS of Jadavpur University’s (JU) English department have alleged they were sexually harassed by the son of a JU professor. This, after an undergraduate student — one among the 13 — from the department took to Facebook to make a similar complaint.
JU Registrar Pradip Ghosh said a formal complaint has been registered by the girl who first took to social media on Sunday to make her allegations public. University officials said a written complaint has been received and “strict action would be taken”. Police, however, said no official complaint has been received in the matter.
The girl has alleged that she had first lodged a complaint with university authorities against the accused in August 2015, for making unwanted sexual advances through lewd text and online messages. She had also accused him of physical molestation.
In her Facebook post on Sexual harassment, she also claimed to be repeatedly bullied by the accused’s friend — a student of English at Presidency University — after she lodged the complaint. In the post, which has gone viral, the girl claimed the friend, who is a woman, would turn up with the accused and harass her in public. She added that she initially feared lodging a complaint against the accused, since he was the son of an “influential” JU professor.
Soon after, other JU students started claiming that they too had been harassed, blackmailed and molested by the accused. Post after post was shared on Facebook, with many claiming they have evidence to prove their allegations.
On Tuesday, two women filed formal complaints with JU’s anti-sexual harassment cell against the accused. The rest are awaiting legal counsel, said sources. A general body meeting of JU has been called to pass a resolution so that formal proceedings may be initiated by the sexual harassment cell.
A professor of the English department said, “We are yet to receive a written complaint. A group of students had approached us with a complaint, but they decided to re-think the matter and returned to us on Tuesday. The first complainant had approached us in August, last year. While no formal complaint was made, we had taken steps and she had seemed satisfied. If there is a written complaint, we will investigate the matter accordingly.” JU officials said after receiving the first complaint against him, counselling was recommended to the accused last year.
In a joint statement on Tuesday, the girls said: “We are a group of (up till now 13) women and girls who have been harassed, both online and in person… We have been touched without our consent. We have been objectified filthily. We have been made to feel like pieces of meat by a man who is utterly despicable. He believes that his actions will not yield any consequences.”
Claiming that the accused was “aided and abetted” by his friend, it said the Presidency student had also “harassed and intimidated” them in “virtual spaces and in person”.
“Jointly, they have both used their privilege to try and keep us silent. Jointly, they have violated our bodies and our minds. Jointly, they have attempted to erase our own agency over our lives. Not anymore. Today, we speak out as survivors of these vile, poisonous human beings. Today, we take a stand against crimes against women, patriarchy, elitism, entitlement, privilege, and bullying. We take this stand to retake our agency, to re-establish the narratives that were taken from us…We hope that our stand will encourage others to come forward with their own experiences which they have kept silent about for whatever reasons. It’s time we all spoke up, it’s time we ripped all their masks off. Thank you for your support,” it added.