Raya Sarkar’s List
Hope you have read up on the Raya Sarkar list. [to be called ‘the List’ from here] If you haven’t please do it. It is a sexual harassment hall of shame for those people who hold power in academia and other professions and who committed sexual harassment. [Full disclosure: The author is one of the women who add names to the List.] Raya Sarkar has been subjected to insane amounts of harassment for the sole reason that she created such a list. This Dalit activist however has been super strong in asking people to piss off.
Due Process Feminists
One would think that only men – especially those who figure in the list – would be the ones to attack Raya. But no, because apparently there is a group of ‘savarna feminists’ who believe that the best way to tackle sexual harassment is by calling the List names. It hardly too any time for a group of 8 well known feminists of this country to come up with a statement that said that they believed that ‘due process’ had to be followed in case of sexual harassment.
Now if you have ever tried to follow the ‘due process’ in a case of sexual harassment, you know that you will not let even your worse enemy go that way. From the police to the courts, we have people who act as if they get paid not to listen to victims of sexual harassment, especially women.
Things get dirt-ier
A lot of people like myself were baffled why feminists who hold power – owing to their reach, contacts and caste – would come up with such a statement. It was then that i realized that no one is really free from the best friends forever syndrome among activists.
This is a syndrome that is usually found among children but have been adopted by adult activists on certain occasions. Certain occasions being those in which the accused and the activists are friends. Or relatives. In such cases, these activists tend to
a) be quiet
b) question the credibility of the complainant(s)
They be like: ‘Hey till yesterday sexual harassment was a crime but now you have named so many people we know, it possibly can’t be true.’ RIP logic.
It turned out that some of the people closely associated with Kafila, the site on which the statement was published, were also on the List. Maybe, they’re not related incidents. But then again why take all the trouble to bring out a statement at all! Nobody had even asked for support or solidarity. The list was growing on its own.
Here is where things got nasty. As though it was answering a call of divine nature, Film and Television Institute of India [FTII] came out with a (stupid) statement. Three faculty and ex-faculty of the film institute were on the list. Amit Tyagi, Dean of the Film Department, said that they had no intention of taking any action against them. Yeah all right. Since there was no formal complaint so you got the wish without rubbing the lamp. [Never mind that one of those professors was in the past accused of sexual harassment in a public function by a young filmmaker, Adwaita Das.]
Then, one of the persons named, Arghya Basu, thought that it would be a wise thing to shift all the blame to the woman who named him. Remember, till this point no one except Raya Sarkar knew the identity of the woman. So this Basu guy was like, ‘ask her to come with proof and ‘I can say stuff about her too’ and everything. You had no reason man. You were better off doing nothing.
Sharing the Pune Mirror report with Arghya’s statement, filmmaker Nishtha Jain came out as the woman who named him and narrated the incident that had made her do so. Turns out that the man who claimed that he had never harassed anyone thought that feeling up a woman against her wish was not harassment. A molester hiding behind the blanket of the misogynistic film fraternity. No wonder people call it a fraternity.
Nistha Jain, maker of documentary films like Gulabi Gang narrated an incident in which Arghya Basu had sexually molested her. She named the people who were present at the place who were not aware of what had happened and why Nishtha had left the party in a hurry. She received a message that said ‘sorry’ from the man the next day but later in a classic abuser manner, Basu pretended as if nothing had happened.
Yeah looks like nothing ever happens to these people who hide behind academics, cinema, literature, arts and all those nice sounding intellectual things. She concluded her post by saying that the ‘due process’ might not help everyone, always.
Piece of mind
a) asking women for proof.
b) pretending as if nothing happened.
c) sexually harassing people.
If you can’t do that
a) just shut up