A Facebook post by a Jadavpur University (JU) professor in which he compared a “virgin girl” to a “sealed bottle” has drawn criticism from several quarters.
“Many boys remain fool. They are not aware of virgin girl as wife. Are you willing to buy a broken seal while purchasing a bottle of cold drink or a packet of biscuits?” wrote Kanak Sarkar, an international relations (IR) professor who has been associated with the university for two past two decades. He also sought to link “virginity” with “culture and sexual hygiene “. “A girl is biologically sealed from birth until it is opened. A virgin girl means many things accompanied as values, culture, sexual hygiene. To most boys virgin wife is like angel,” read his post.
Calling his post “shocking” and “misogynistic”, the National Commission for Women took suo motu cognisance of it and asked the state DGP to probe the matter, take appropriate action and apprise the commission of the same.
While Sarkar deleted his posts after the uproar, he also defended himself saying, “I write my personal opinion. The Supreme Court has repealed section 66 A of the IT Act and given freedom of expression on social media. I have not written anything against any person, individual or anybody without any evidence or proof or reference. I am doing social research and writing for the good and well-being of society.
The recent post I have given in ‘Kalom’ and ‘Mukto Kalom’ public group only. Many are sharing screenshots. I request not to confuse. It’s everybody’s right to express his/her thoughts. I have given many posts in favour of women. Can verify them in my timeline (sic),” he wrote in another post. Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA) condemned Sarkar’s statements.
“JUTA unequivocally condemns the highly deplorable, misogynistic and sexist comments made by Kanak Sarkar of the IR department,” JUTA general secretary Partha Pratim Ray said in a statement. Speaking to The Indian Express, Ray said, “We have also asked the university authorities to take steps against him. This is unbecoming of a teacher, especially one from a university of high repute.”
Both Sarkar and JU Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das were not available for comment.
Meanwhile, students of the IR department wrote to the department head requesting Sarkar’s removal. “We are shocked to read the statements he has made. It is not only derogatory but also insensitive…Such statements will make female students uncomfortable and therefore there is a need to change the faculty member to ensure such lessons do not get transmitted among students,” said a JU student.
IR department head Om Prakash Mishra said, ”The students are quite agitated about the issue. We have received a number of representations from students and student bodies. The department is looking into the matter.”
Leena Gangopadhyay, chairperson of the State Women Commission, condemned the statement. “I don’t know whether he has the right to teach anymore. I will reach Kolkata tonight and tomorrow I will explore legal ways to look into it. If we receive a mass petition against him, we will hold a hearing on this matter and will summon the professor,” she told this newspaper.