A former student of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, has filed a complaint with the institute’s internal complaints committee, alleging that he was sexually assaulted and raped by an invitee visiting the campus for a conference. According to the complaint, the incident took place in February 2017 during a conference when an invitee (not a student of TISS) allegedly “raped, sexually assaulted and stripped naked” the complainant.
The accused, then a 21-year-old man associated with an international art forum, had been invited by the institute as a presenter for the conference. The complainant, who was also 21 then, said the two met through a dating app and began texting each other. Thereafter, the two met at the Library Conference Hall at the institute.
In his complaint, the former student said that the two then moved to the terrace of the library, which was isolated.
It was here that the invitee forced himself on the student, and tore the student’s clothes, according to the complaint.
The complainant, who graduated from TISS this year, said that he had not complained about the incident last year, when it happened, for fear of being implicated under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which was still in force during the time.
While the Supreme Court on September 6 decriminalised consensual sex between homosexual adults, in 2017, when the incident occurred, Section 377 of the IPC still criminalised homosexual sex.
“I was informed by various means that action can’t be taken against people who were not part of TISS, and that in case I go to the police, I would be implicated under the law as 377 was still in force during the time. I want to finally talk about it now,” said the student in his complaint sent by email to TISS director Shalini Bharat, Internal Committee for Sexual Harassment presiding officer Shewli Kumar and the TISS Queer Collective (QC).
“As young queer folks, who are exploring our sexuality, and politics, we often tend to stay quiet and let people in power exploit us. And it is disheartening that a lot of times, violence comes from within the community. I feel that calling out such men is important because what happened to me could be anybody’s reality,” wrote the former student in his complaint.
Both the complainant and the invitee continue to be closeted homosexuals.
The accused, who now lives abroad, told The Indian Express: “I did not realise that my advances were not wanted. As soon as I did, I stopped. We had been speaking for several days prior to this and during this time, had been very clear about a mutual desire.”
He said he had tried to contact the student after the incident to help him work through the trauma but the student had not responded.
While sources in the institute’s administration said that the complaint had been received and discussion on further course of action was on, Bharat and Kumar refused to comment.