TW: Sexual Harassment

As the sexual harassment case filed against the head of the Chemistry Department (HoD) moves to a third panel, despite the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) finding the perpetrator guilty 19 months ago, it is time to acknowledge that the harassment culture in DU is more predatory than it seems.

A safety audit carried out by the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) across colleges affiliated to the Delhi University (DU) stated that one in every four women studying in the University has faced sexual harassment. One in five cases of harassment were of touching or groping. Lewd gestures, staring and vulgar comments make up for the most rampant kind of harassment.

A total of 188 cases were recorded by the survey. The survey also highlighted cyber harassment. Carried across 24 colleges with 736 female respondents, it stated that one in five cases of harassment concerned trolling on social media or harassment through calls, text or WhatsApp messages. The report also stated that not even half of the respondents were aware of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in their institutions.

Last year, when the #MeToo movement was a billowing surge, DU’s debating and MUN circuit ignited their own version of it, with female debaters coming up to narrate incidents of sexual assault or harassment. It was a shocking revelation to be made, the debating circuit has long been a platform with liberal ideas as its mainstay, and constant debates on feminism and equality. With allegations being made on a Facebook Group that served as an announcement board for tournaments called, ‘Debate Lokpal’, they called out senior members of DU’s debating circuit.

In April 2019, Moksh Nair, a third-year student from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS), was accused of harassing seven third-year girls at a farewell party, and the girls ended up dropping any legal charges against him.

A Political Science professor, from Delhi University’s Daulat Ram College, was arrested by the Maurice Nagar police on Monday, 5th February for allegedly sexually harassing a 17-year-old student. The student alleged that Professor, Abhay Kumar, had often tried to touch her inappropriately whenever he found her alone. The girl reportedly informed the police that he would follow her and ask her to meet him. He would even, allegedly, threaten to fail her in internal exams if she rejected his advances.

Principal Savita Roy had allegedly been informed about the Professor’s misdemeanour beforehand but had refused to take action. In fact, in the six days it took between the complaint being filed (31st January) and Kumar’s arrest (5th February), students point out that the Professor was not only allowed to enter the college premises but also allowed to take classes until he finally submitted his resignation.

In 2015, a St. Stephen’s Ph.D. student has accused a professor- Satish Kumar- of the college of sexual harassment. The victim in her complaint has alleged that the Professor harassed her while she was working with him in college. She also said that the college Principal, Valson Thampu, tried to stop her from going to the police and instead forced her to end the matter in the college. The reasoning behind this was stated as not causing any delay or problems in the completion of her Ph.D.

In 2013, The principal of Bhim Rao Ambedkar College was booked by Delhi Police for abetting the suicide of Pavitra Bhardwaj, a former employee who had accused him of sexual harassment. Instead of hearing her out, the college had sacked her two years prior. Bhardwaj, who succumbed to injuries on 7th October, alleged sexual and mental harassment by Arora and another staff member.

These cases are a few of the many that go unreported, unnoticed or are hushed down. It becomes essential to acknowledge the fact that there remain to be a few isolated cases, wherein the accuser fabricates the case in an attempt to shame the accused.

Yet, it becomes important to also acknowledge the fact that most of these cases are factual and are hushed down by authorities in an attempt to not tarnish the reputation of an institution, or even a community. With the Bharati College case reaching its 19th month and the perpetrator having been found guilty with no actions taken, it becomes vital to try and understand why it is that an institution that prides itself for being a safe, largely-liberal and accepting space, does so much to silence its survivors and protect its perpetrators.

Feature Image Credits: HuffPost India

Shreya Juyal

[email protected]

Cancel Culture has gained both critiques and praise, its approach has helped many, but also often remained short-lived. This tool has emerged as a voice for the marginalised, but how effective is it?

Cancel Culture refers to the phenomenon of “cancelling” or boycotting a celebrity’s work, products, art and position, and as a practice has gained momentum in the past year. This process involves people expressing their anger towards the celebrity by collectivising in order to counter the social influence he or she has. This tool has been proven effective in providing marginalised groups with a voice and facilitating in the “takedowns” of people. Bill Cosby and Kevin Spacey’s careers were cancelled after several women, and men came out against them in cases of harassment.

Cancel Culture comes with its supporters and opponents. Its advocates talk about how in an attention-based economy, this is a medium to gauge the attention of millions of people towards problematic behaviours. It can help educate and enlighten. We can call out big companies or brands for their acts of fright. The notion of individuals with social capital getting away with their wrongdoings is now challenged. Furthermore, we can now raise awareness about issues which were never openly discussed before, such as sexual harassment, racist comments, and queerbaiting.

This practice goes on from a celebrity-fan equation, to also a person-to-person equation. A very recent example becomes the number of people who were called out as a part of the #MeToo movement. We have all heard these stories, read these posts on Facebook or Instagram or known someone who has experienced this. From offices to colleges, and mostly the circuits of different societies. After the incident is painfully reported, the retelling of the story begins. But even at this level, there exists this social hierarchy, with some people whose reputation will be unaffected and those with much to lose.

The accused tend to remain involved, while the accuser is forced to leave this situation.

Recently, several cases of this have come to light. From Logan Paul, Aziz Ansari, James Charles to Indian comedians like AIB’s Gursimran Khamba and Tanmay Bhat have been boycotted. But the question remains, is this an effective solution? We cannot guarantee its impact, and how long the impact lasts. Only so few people have had to face long-lasting repercussions of being cancelled. Aziz Ansari made a comeback on Netflix, and incorporated this period in his piece, James Charles made an apology video and regained his lost position, Kanye West also successfully returned with his reputation untouched.

It is believed that with every controversy that comes and goes, people tend to forget the past. So, most celebrities suffer a brief period of losing deals and fans. Their return involves three steps; they make a seemingly “raw” and honest apology, lay low for a few months and return with the persona of a “changed” person. The authenticity of these apologies and transformations seem questionable. Going back to how it pans out in college circuits, a similar trend follows.

With cancel culture, “cancelling cancel culture” has also gained some attention. It has risen as a messiah of the ‘cancelled’ and propagates that these individuals be made aware of their problematic behaviours. Some people even bring in the idea of cyberbullying in speaking out against cancel culture.

Short or long, the impact this new culture brings is a ray of hope in a world where even ‘Instagram famous’ people gain social capital which can be hard to fight. The idea is not to takedown celebrities or to oppress them, but it is to revoke the privilege that has been placed. This fights against people in positions of privilege who have gotten away with racist and homophobic jokes or demanding sexual favours. The exploitation has now collectivised many to rage against, not a few select individuals, but centuries of oppression.


Feature Image Credits: Lamar University


Shivani Dadhwal

[email protected]


Movements that start on social media have a way of fizzing out into oblivion on their own, so it is important to analyse their impact, by following up on regular intervals. What happened to some of the men named in the movement? Read on to know.

Women from all over the world grow up experiencing one or the other form of sexism, and even harassment by the time they leave their childhood years behind. Men are either on the causal end of this, or in a vicious cycle experience it in the form of toxic masculinity themselves. The individuals who do not identify with the conventional genders are, in fact, more prone to assault and sexual humiliation in their lives. The evidence of such harassment seldom exists because there are no security cameras recording inappropriate groping in a crowded place, or seemingly casual grazing of the thighs by well-meaning relatives behind closed doors.

The #MeToo movement has been criticized as a witch-hunt that aims to further the character assassinations of celebrities, especially famous men, without substantial evidence to support the allegations. But allegations have been made, nonetheless, because a small fraction of the society decided to stand by imperfect feminism, instead of perfect misogyny and patriarchy in a fortunate and well-deserved change of events.

It is not only significant to stay informed on the subject of predatory behaviour perpetrated by the widely admired personalities, but it also becomes integral for the moral fabric of the society to hold the accused accountable to their victims, and for their actions. As the public not directly involved in the occurrences, one part to play is in following through once an accusation has been made. Here is a list of the some Indian celebrities who were ousted for their sexually predatory behaviour, along with the details of what happened to them, and to justice, in the aftermath of the allegations against them:

  1. Shamir Reuben (Writer/Poet)

According to a report published in The Quint on February 11, 2018, Kommune- a storytelling platform, for which the content and social media were headed by Reuben- suspended his association. Accused of predatory behaviour with minors since his ask.fm days, Reuben issued an apology through a post on Facebook.

Harnidh Kaur, a poet claiming to be a feminist, and a writer from Mumbai, had extended support to the women thinking of pursuing legal action against Reuben. Sources reveal no further legal action has been taken against Reuben, despite the accounts of over ten women accusing him of lewd and obscene behaviour.

  1. Chintan Ruparel (Writer)

The co-founder of the popular storytelling platform, Terribly Tiny Tales, and a former advertising brain, was accused by Gauri Awasthi of inappropriate conduct in a professional setting. His former girlfriend, Shrutee Choudhary, then came out to share her own experience of abuse and toxicity with Ruparel. Accounts in double digits started a flurry over social media platforms as his former wife, and numerous women who attended his workshops, spoke up against him.

Terribly Tiny Tales removed him from his position as the Chief Content Officer on 8th October, 2018. According to Anuj Gosalia, the Chief Executive Officer and founder, Ruparel’s name was dissociated from the company’s lease officially on 3rd November, 2018.

Ruparel has not spoken on any social media platform regarding the allegations and his removal from the company, but the platform set up an Internal Complaints Committee, and reached out to its community of writers to encourage the reporting of any inappropriate behaviour on behalf of the employees’ part.

  1. Alok Nath (Actor)

Originally ousted by writer-producer, Vinta Nanda, and then named a habitual predator by personalities like Sandhya Mridul, Amyra Dastur, Navneet Nishan, and some other former colleagues, Nath has termed the allegations baseless. As per a report published in the Times of India, he hit the foundation of the entire movement by stating, “In today’s world, whatever a woman says, only that will be considered.” Following up with his publicly claimed outrage, Nath demanded a public apology from Nanda, and went on to file a defamation suit against her in the realm of civil law. By November 21, Nanda had lodged an official complaint at the Oshiwara Police Station in Mumbai, regarding the 19 years’ old incident. Alok Nath also faced expulsion from the Cine and TV Artists’ Association (CINTAA), and the Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) promised legal action against the actor after he failed to respond to their notice concerning his misconduct. The legal proceedings are underway against the man who gained fame as the symbol of ‘sanskaar’ (values) in the world of celluloid.

  1. Gautam Adhikari (Journalist)

Despite his denial of the allegations made against him by multiple subordinates and colleagues, the founding editor of DNA resigned from his position as senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress (CAP) located in Washington DC. According to The Wire, the officials at CAP confirmed his resignation after an internal investigation was initiated in the issues concerning his conduct.

  1. R. Sreenivas (Journalist)

After over seven accounts of sexual misconduct and molestation were shared with regard to the Hyderabad resident editor of the national daily, Times of India, he was sent on an administrative leave on 9th October, 2018. According to The Print, Mr. Sreenivas resigned by 13th October, and was to be investigated by an internal committee of The Times Group (BCCL). As of December 1, 2018, the committee is independently investigating the former editor based on the substantial evidence against his inappropriate actions.

  1. Rajat Kapoor (Actor/Director)

Accused of sexual misconduct and forceful behaviour by women journalists and a few anonymous accounts on Twitter, the actor issued an apology for his wrongful actions towards ‘other human beings’. He did not accept outright responsibility for his actions. The actor’s work, titled ‘Kadakh’, was dropped from the lineup of the 20th edition of the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) festival in lieu with the allegations against the actor.

There are numerous other names which have been brought to question by the power of the movement. Women like Kangana Ranaut, actress, and Aditi Mittal, comedian, were also accused of toxic actions in a relationship, and forceful physical contact, respectively. Acclaimed singer, Sonu Nigam, offered negative criticism of the accountability in the movement while speaking up in support of the accused musician, Anu Malik. Debates and differing opinions continue to make a whirlwind, but the bottom-line of the #MeToo movement is to bring perpetrators down from the pedestal, and question them as effectively as possible.

Image Courtesy: Medium

Anushree Joshi

[email protected]

In India, #MeToo captured the public imagination last month when actress Tanushree Dutta recalled her accusations of sexual harassment against actor Nana Patekar on the sets of Horn Ok Please.

Back in 2008, she had complained against him and had walked off the set as a sign of protest. Nobody paid attention to her allegations, now 10 years later she’s the face of India’s #MeToo moment.

However, to say that Tanushre Dutta, no matter how courageous her act is, started #MeToo in India would be a disservice to the legacy of less remembered and astonishing brave women who called out their perpetrators way before Twitter took cognisance of the same. Here’s a lowdown of the important moments in the history of #MeToo in India-

1. One cannot forget Bhanwari Devi while talking about #MeToo. Bhanwari Devi, a lower- caste social worker, was one of the pioneers of the Women’s Development Project of the Rajasthan Government. She use to actively work towards sensitising her fellow villagers on social issues like child marriage. In 1992, she tried to persuade an upper caste family to not marry off their one-
year old girl child. As a consequence, she was gang-raped by the men of that family. 28 years on and she still hasn’t found justice, but her inspiring struggle shaped India’s feminist movement and brought to light the institutional sexual assualt of lower caste women at the hands of upper caste men.
2. In October 2017, Raya Sarkar, a law student at University of California atDavis, posted a list on Facebook that named Indian academics who were allegedly predatory in nature. The list, based on victim accounts, was intended to warn other young women
about sexual predators present in the universities and colleges of the country.
3. Last year, blogger Sheena Dabolkar’s viral #MeToo tweet resulted in the boycott of Khodu Irani’s popular Punepub, High Spirits, by several well-known performers. Many women, who were regulars there, came out with
their stories of being sexually harassed by men inside the pub.
4. Mahima Kukreja outed Utsav Chakraborty, a comedian who has worked with houses like All India Backchod (AIB), of as a sexual harasser. This accusation prompted several other women who recalled the same experience with the alleged perpetrator. As a result, Tanmay Bhatt, AIB’s co-founder and CEO, was also removed from organisation as it was found out that he was complicit when women reached out to him with allegations against Utsav Chakraborty.

5. Closer home in the University of Delhi (DU), Astha Bamba, a student of DU, collated list of alleged perpetrators who were active and established in the Model United Nations (MUN) and debating circuit of DU.
6. Vikas Bahl, the director of Queen, has been accused of sexually harassment by a former employee of Phantom
Films. Actress Kangna Ranaut came in support of her, accusing Bahl of sexual harassment too.
7. Actor Alok Nath has also been accused of raping TV Producer Vinta Nanda who worked with him on the sets of Tara, a television show, in the 90s.
8. M.J. Akbar, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, has been accused of sexual harassment by over 16 women, many of them established journalist. He’s by far the most powerful name in the ever-growing list of sexual predators.
We are at a point when it’s becoming culturally feasible for victims to validate their feelings. There is no victim blaming, gaslighting, or judgement. Which is why we are hearing stories that are years, sometimes decades old. Some have gathered the courage to come on record while others are exercising their right to stay anonymous. Many people have raised the question of false allegations. Feminists around the world are still grappling with how to deal with the collateral damage of lies, but we must refuse to let the “fear of false allegations” override the narratives of victims. The whisper network is a public announcement
now, and we are here for it.


Feature Image Credits: The Print

Disha Saxena 

[email protected]

Does the blind admiration of supposed heroes contribute to the systematic problem ousted through #MeToo? Does the society become complicit in the trauma of survivors by condoning an abuse of power? Read on to know.

The second wave of the #MeToo movement in India, brought forth by the actress, Tanushree Dutta has gained momentum in encouraging survivors to oust powerful and famous predators. Comedy collectives, Model United Nations circuits, media houses, Bollywood, advertising agencies, and numerous other domains of the ‘sophisticated’ working class India have been put to contest of their unsafe, insensitive, and hypocritical attitudes towards sexual violations and misconduct. The inconspicuous nature
of the entitlement in the behaviours of renowned personalities has been brought to the spotlight in a way unlike ever before, as pointed out by Nikhil Taneja, the co-founder of Yuvaa, “I think
the biggest and most important thing #MeToo has done is to shift the shame from the survivor to the perpetrator. Earlier our news would say how one
more girl was assaulted. For the first time, it’s about how one more man has done something shameful. The onus is on men now.”
However, the perspective of the entire
situation becomes precarious when one finds the name of a person they believed to be ‘ideal’ or ‘perfect’ in the list of sexual predators. It creates a primordial sense of disbelief when the hypocrisy of one’s hero is thrown into the open, and their admirers often attempt to justify the events to themselves. There is nothing wrong with having a humane reaction of disbelief for people who built a façade of idealism and trust, and capitalised on it to acquire benefits for their social capital or business brand. But after the initial processing of the account
of the survivor(s), the responsibility to objectively acknowledge their trauma without siding blindly with the supposed hero also rests with the society. When Tanmay Bhatt, the co-founder and CEO of the comedy collective All India Bakchod (AIB), was removed from his administrative post from the organisation, the comments on the organisation’s statement regarding the same were full of hate-speech for the victims, and criticised the approach of AIB in holding Bhatt accountable for his silence despite the knowledge of Utsav Chakraborty’s actions.
Standing by your heroes when they
violate and traumatise another individual is a systematic way for the perpetrators to abuse their power, and acquire more of it. In fact, the reason
why the #MeToo movement has become significant for those who want to maintain anonymity because they fear stigma, the mental harassment, or the ruin of their professional careers, is due to the fact that their violators are at powerful pedestals and people either choose not to believe their accounts or they refuse to acknowledge it. It is this blind admiration, backed by, indifference which has caused the survivors to endure for several decades. The example of Alok Nath is fitting here.
If supposed heroes are not held accountable for their actions, then the
world will become prone to malice and destruction through illusions. In fact,
the presence of assualters from with
the community of artists, activists, and other peoplewho are involved in relatively philanthropic endeavours
informs the society of the danger that is hero-worship. It also breaks the stereotype which suggests that perpetrators are monsters who listen
to sexist Bollywood songs and reveled
a possibility of a hippie slam poet being
a sexual harasser.
Hero-worship contributes to a culture
of misogyny, abuse of power, and trauma and it’s about time we we start holding the artist accountable for actions, no matter how breathtaking their art is.

Feature Image Credits: DNA India

Anushree Joshi
[email protected]

A #MeToo movement in Delhi University’s debating circuit has left predators within its midst scurrying for cover as victims narrate their agonising ordeal and anxiety-inducing tales of woe.

A tumultuous stir has been ignited within the confines of University of Delhi’s debating circuit microcosm, with a multitude of female debaters coming to the fore with the unparalleled gumption to narrate tales of egregious sexual assault or harassment, inflicted on them by those who for far too long thrived on the social capital and hegemony extended to them by a circuit that fawned at their debating finesse. It is a stir that was long overdue, and was brewing for far too long before it shoved the entirety of the circuit into a cataclysmic tailspin.

The debating circuit’s #MeToo movement, reminiscent to the one spurred in Hollywood that ultimately led to the toppling of disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein, posits itself as a watershed moment for an activity that debaters have cherished since antiquity, but what soon devolved into a regressive and toxic cesspool teeming with predators, who reigned with tacit acceptance. The circuit’s #MeToo movement ousted several predators within its midst, while waging a protracted battle against misogyny, sexism, and crass libertine tendencies, using the medium of PD Confessions, a Facebook page which allows users to post anonymously.

At this juncture, it is evident that debating tournaments nonchalantly remain impervious to the concerns expressed by female debaters. The grouse of conducting tournaments on time is yet to be taken cognisance of, as was evident by the fiasco that transpired at KMC’s abruptly-scrapped tournament. Female debaters are left to fend off for themselves at odd hours as tournaments come to a delayed close. Perverts aren’t the only impediments female debaters have to deal with, for concerned parents often view debating with a specter of doubt, given how delayed tournaments proceed.

Another bone of contention that arises at this juncture is the paucity of female representation in the core committees of coeducational institutions’ societies, a jarring dearth that manifests hideously when one observes the preponderance of men in core committees. On account of this, various concerns emanating from the female bastions are either smothered or shirked nonchalantly, a myopic decision which resulted in a significant abatement in female participation.

This has led to the vicarious festering of a sanctimonious temperament within the debating rooms, with men being
accused of mellifluously defending motions on feminism while exuding an abominable insensitivity to the plight
of female debaters, especially in terms of not obviating despicable verbal and non-verbal cues. It’s quite intriguing to
note that the scathing denunciation of the hunky-dory nature of debating has further been vindicated by the
disingenuous and snarky manner in which certain accused individuals chose to respond to the allegations, with calumny and gaslighting being the tropes that were resorted to.

Specific measures that require incorporation into the mainstream include stripping the accused of their achievements, actively initiating a dialogue with debaters on consent, apprising debaters on what constitutes as misconduct and harassment, and enacting measures to prop up a
grievance cell within debating societies and during tournaments to provide recourse to the aggrieved. With the
passage of time, more retributive measures such as seeking legal counsel and lodging formal complaints with
the proper authorities can be looked into.
While the gradual incorporation of these deterrent norms has certainly been bolstered by the #MeToo movement within the circuit, whether these revelations would have any profound impact on the abominable psyche prevalent within the confines of debating rooms is yet to be gauged.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Adeel Shams
[email protected]

#MeToo is an initiative aimed to highlight how common and rampant assault and harassment are. Responses have poured in across social media emphasising how deep the problem is. What do we need to do to keep the movement alive?

A social media initiative to accent the stories of sexual harassment and assault, the #MeToo campaign has found resonating hearts throughout different ages, geographical boundaries, and backgrounds. It was started by Tarana Burke over ten years ago. The campaign was turned into a hashtag by American actress, producer, and activist, Alyssa Milano after Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, was accused of having sexually harassed and assaulted over thirty young models and actresses. The campaign has been trending on Twitter, Facebook and has even made waves on Instagram. Indeed, social media can play a very important role to fight patriarchy. In the words of Tarana Burke “Me Too is largely about empathy. We use a term called empowerment through empathy. It’s short and succinct but it’s powerful”. #MeToo has allowed thousands of people to speak out against sexual assault and has gained immense traction on social media.

While Trump became the American President despite several accusations of assault against him, in France prosecutors ruled that an eleven year old girl “consented” to have sex with a 28 year old. In India politicians continue to blame everything to the victims clothing, whilst the real perpetrator- egotistical men who don’t have any fear are never called out. Authorities continue to act as the agents of patriarchy, with problematic laws, delayed justice and corruption being the preferred methods of subjugation. Along with that, sexist films, and songs that objectify women are equally guilty of promoting harassment. The Me Too campaign should not be limited to sharing our stories; it should act as a reminder of why we need to crush the patriarchy, now more than ever.

 The #MeToo movement has highlighted the problem of assault and harassment across the globe.
The #MeToo movement has highlighted the problem of assault and harassment across the globe.

Me Too, has seen a fair degree of sceptics. While some people see it as a revolutionary movement that highlight how common sexual assault is; others see it as a way of focusing the harassment related narrative only to the victim. It is therefore even more important that we carry forward this responsibility and create awareness about sexual harassment and assault. We should be more thoughtful of our actions and of those around us: this would mean recognising and calling out people who make crude jokes, and show a discriminatory attitude towards women. By voicing our hurt, pain, and trauma we have set wheels to a movement that could redefine societal perception of victims and assault in the 21st century. It falls upon us to fearlessly speak up against any kind of victim-shaming and blaming. The Me Too movement will only be a success when we go above and beyond to fight for the cause of social justice and freedom from fear of harassment.

Feature Image Credits: Pinkvilla

Image Credits: Recode


Kinjal Pandey

[email protected]