A professor at Kolkata’s premier Jadavpur University (JU) has stoked a major controversy by making comments on virginity of women on Facebook and later defending his remarks. International Relations’ professor Kanak Sarkar has likened a woman’s virginity to a “sealed bottle” or “packet” in a Facebook post on Sunday, triggering a furore on social media and academic circles.
Though he was quick to delete the post, screenshots of it went viral. Students’ unions on Tuesday submitted memorandums to JU Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das, demanding strict action against Sarkar. The professor, in his post, wrote: “Are you willing to buy a broken seal while purchasing a bottle of cold drink or a packet of biscuits? It is the same case with your wife.
“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.” Facing criticism from all quarters, a defiant Sarkar appeared to justify his comments, asserting it was intended for “fun” among a social media group of friends and “not for public consumption”. “Someone took a screenshot of the post and forwarded it, which triggered the response. I did not intend to hurt anyone’s sentiment or insult any woman,” he said.
He also said according to a Supreme Court order every individual is entitled to express his opinion. The JU Arts Faculty Students Union leader Debraj Debnath told PTI that both the AFSU and the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) have submitted separate memorandums against the professor to the VC for the “sexist post”. “It is their democratic right to submit memorandum against me to the authorities. But, I should be allowed to explain my stand,” Sarkar said.
A student of his department alleged that Sarkar made similar “sexist comments” on social media in the past as well. “During classes, he had created an uncomfortable situation for woman students. We don’t feel secure in his presence in the department,” she said. The International Relations Department of the varsity will also appeal to the VC for action against him, she added. The vice-chancellor was not available for comments.