A list containing the names of 68 academicians from universities across the country is being circulated on social media, tainted with charges of sexual harassment.
Recently, Raya Sarkar, a lawyer, made a Facebook post on the 24th October that said, “One sexual harasser is Dipesh Chakravarty, the other is Kanak Sarkar Prof. teaching political science at Jadavpur University. If anyone knows of academics who have sexually harassed/were sexually predatory to them or have seen it firsthand, PM me and I’ll add them to the list.” The post went viral and the names of 68 academics were added to the list along with the institution they were a part of.
Raya Sarkar, “an attorney interested in prisoners’ rights, reproductive rights, and anti-caste jurisprudence”, as her Facebook profile reads, posted the invitation at 12.25 am on October 24, inviting several others to add to the list of sexual harassers. The list was instantly updated bearing the names of prominent professors, including several from renowned institutions like Jadavpur University, University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, St. Xavier’s College, Ambedkar University, and more. The list remains constantly updated.
Commenting on her own post, Raya Sarkar said, “Most if not all are first-person accounts of people who were molested/sexually harassed by the people who have been put on this list. Rest are a friend (sic) they (the victims) have chosen to specifically contact me as they fear their identity being disclosed. In fact, since there is a disturbing amount of rape apologia and victim blaming, the victims have gone out of their way to show me screenshots of them being harassed and abused by the people they have named.”
The post falls as an aftermath social media campaign called #MeToo that opened the platform for individuals to share their sexual harassment encounters over the years with the hashtag #metoo. This campaign started as a response to the Harvey Weinstein case in Hollywood, where around 40 women, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, etc., came forward with the chronicles of sexual harassment by the leading movie mogul.
While the initiative gathered a fair share of supporters, it was also slammed by a group of feminists in an open letter on Kafila.online titled, Statement by Feminists on Facebook Campaign to “Name and Shame”. These activists said, “We are dismayed by the initiative on Facebook in which men are being listed and named as sexual harassers with no context or explanation. One or two names of men who have been already found guilty of sexual harassment by due process are placed on par with unsubstantiated accusations. It worries us that anybody can be named anonymously, with a lack of answerability. Where there are genuine complaints, there are institutions and procedures, which we should utilise. We too know the process is harsh and often tilted against the complainant. We remain committed to strengthening these processes. At the same time, abiding by the principles of natural justice, we remain committed to due process, which is fair and just. This manner of naming can delegitimise the long struggle against sexual harassment, and make our task as feminists more difficult. We appeal to those who are behind this initiative to withdraw it, and if they wish to pursue complaints, to follow due process, and to be assured that they will be supported by the larger feminist community in their fight for justice.” This was signed by prominent activists like Ayesha Kidwai, Kavita Krishnan, Nivedita Menon, and Vrinda Grover.
Feature Image Credits: India Times