The Sexual Harassment Hall Of Shame: Why Didn’t We Think Of It Earlier

Because articles disappear

Dipesh Chakrabarty [Image: University of Chicago Directory]

So there is not much news. Universities all over are harassing women. They are making them feel that they are not welcome in academics by sexually harassing them but hey, when has that been a problem. Nobody asked women to get educated. They might as well endure what it entails. Anyway, a woman’s Facebook post has started a public record of serial sexual harassers. It just doesn’t stop growing and people are whispering ‘him?’, ‘no way!’ and all those sentences that follow sexual harassment allegations.

Is it that hard to believe? From the time women went out to universities and workplaces, we have been taught that those spaces weren’t for us. Academia will be academia because women can be easily driven away.

But aberrations happen. Women sometimes just lose it and start speaking up. Haven’t you heard of many sexual harassment cases where first just one woman spoke up and then there were scores of them saying the same thing about the same person? Last week was about Harvey Weinstein and more than sixty women who called him out. Looks like it’s only going to get worse.

What was Huffpost thinking?

First Khodu Irani, of High Spirits bar, Pune was called out for sexually harassing women by a freelance writer. This was followed by testimonies from more women and artists boycotting the bar.

Then came an article in Huffpost by C Christine Fair, Associate Professor, Georgetown University. It was a woman’s testimony of how academia is filled with sexual harassers. Like all lists, that one too had an Indian. If we advertise ourselves every time an ‘Indian origin’ kid wins a spelling bee, shouldn’t we do the same when an Indian molests, rapes or harasses a woman?

Along with Arthur Wayne Thomas,  Brice Bosnich, Greg Hillhouse, Nobel Prize winner E. J. Correy  was Dipesh Chakrabarty. Enough for Indians to weep over for a few days, I suppose?

However, the article is no longer on Huffpost. It shows the message below now when we try to access it. Why is Huffpost weeping with Bengal after publishing a very necessary article?


Ermm…what exactly were the unavoidable reasons that prompted this move? Don’t the readers have the right to know? Are you scared? Of what?

Conservative background = Asking for sexual favours

According to Fair, Chakrabarty had asked her ‘are you looking for sexual pleasure’ when she handed over a paper to him. Yeah, why not. Women go to universities not because like men who go there, they have a passion for academics but because they wish to have sexual pleasure. What an accurate guess!

This man also told her that the reason for his behaviour was that he came from a ‘conservative background’. Yeah, the poor man is so conservative that he does puja before asking students for sexual favours.

And what did the authorities do? They told her that it was not uncommon and she only had to keep him at bay by saying no. How about this? You say no to him. ‘No, Mr Chakrabarty, you can’t sexually harass your students.’ How hard is that?

A Data Entry Project

It was in this context that Raya Sarkar, attorney and anti-caste activist, wrote about sexual harassment in educational institutes. She started a list. A very useful one. In it, she started naming all the people she knew who had sexually harassed people. She also asked others to message her the names and details if they too knew people like that. The post is now being shared and the names have now been made into a spreadsheet where one can see details about the cases and perpetrators.

An ever-growing list

Isn’t this mob violence?

Yeah, sure. Netizens are not police. Not the judiciary. But then if the police asks us what we were wearing when we got harassed and courts think that a feeble ‘no’ means yes, why should we even wait? Did they wait before pushing young students and workers to depression and PTSD? Did they pay for the expensive therapy?

So here is the thing. If you have witnessed sexual harassment in workplaces and universities and educational institutes, take a moment and enter the details over there. It might stop them from harassing more women.

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