The ‘sanitary pad’ campaign against rape and sexism, which had spread from New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia to Kolkata’s Jadavpur University (JU), entered its second phase on Tuesday.
Days after four Jamia students were asked to explain why they had put up sanitary pads with protest messages on them at public places across the campus, pads with similar messages had come up in JU on March 28. Tuesday saw the second spell of the protest.
Though authorities feigned ignorance about those behind this form of protest, members of Periods — a group of students spearheading the campaign — have been distributing leaflets and writing messages openly inside the campus. Posters and sanitary napkins have come up on the walls of Aurobindo Bhavan — the building that houses the offices of the Pro V-C and registrar.
On Tuesday, a member of the group, said: “We are protesting against the showcause notice sent to the four Jamia students for protesting in a similar fashion and also against the apathy of the university and police authorities towards recent molestation cases in JU. For this, we do not need any permission.”
Arumita Mitra, a second-year philosophy student and a member of Periods, said: “There is no need to ask for permission from anyone to hold a protest. The protest is against the taboo tag given to topics like menstruation and periods. Besides, in most incidents of violence against women, the victim is named and blamed.”
Maintaining that the problem was not restricted to JU, she added: “The movement too will not be restricted to JU. We are in talks with others and will take the movement to different parts of the city.”
Another student, Smita Roy, said that both the state and JU authorities try to blame the victim of gender violence. “In the Park Street rape case, the chief minister termed it as a minor incident and JU has been against any such move,” she added.
Though there are around 40 members in Periods, hardly a dozen were seen at Tuesday’s protest. When asked, Roy said: “This is a sensitive issue and with time, we are sure more would join us as awareness spreads. There are many silent supporters who had not joined us physically but they support the cause.”
Pro V-C of JU, Ashish Verma, said action will be taken against those behind the movement. “I am not against students’ movement but against its form. It is not a socially acceptable way to protest. Yesterday, we had formed a fact-finding committee… we are yet to get a report from it.
We will take action against those behind the movement after we get concrete evidence,” Verma said.
Sources said Education Minister Partha Chatterjee had expressed his discontent over the movement and claimed that senior Trinamool leaders Manish Gupta and Arup Biswas would take action against those behind the same.