Sunday 3 January 2016

Kolkata Courts; Sexual Harassment Battle Continues

So i was asked to appear before magistrate on 31st December 2015. I went to Alipore I Judicial Magistrate and what i saw was nothing like courts in Kerala. Only once before have i testified in court in Calicut. The court i saw in Alipore was like a food court. There were tea shops and dhabas everywhere. There was shit of animals and humans everywhere. Every wall in the building i went to was stained with chewed tobacco spit.

The magistrate was a woman and she asked me to make my statement again. The first time i made it she did not take it down. Then she asked me to repeat what i had just said and then she took that down in writing. A certificate by the magistrate was issued after that.

The police officer said that if i did not want to appear for the medical examination which is also part of the procedure i would have to write a letter stating the same. I really don't know how sexual abuse which was done on my body more than a year ago will show up in any such examination. I am waiting for some expert advice on this nevertheless.

Meanwhile in SRFTI, where the crimes took place, people were busy ganging up against me. The first problem, as always, was that the reputation of the institute was getting tainted. On social media a few girl students put up posts saying they have never felt that SRFTI was unsafe for women. Looks like our filmmakers have a very skewed perspective of safety. In my opinion feeling safe is not about drinking through the night and not getting molested. It is not a favour that the male community is doing by not asking us for sexual favours or not trying to sleep with us when we are not interested. It is how things should be. That none of my classmates ever raped me even when we slept in the same rooms does not mean that women are safe on campus. When professors make lewd comments in class, when they ask students for sexual favours as a price for their classes, then it means that it is not safe.

Some ex students took those posts as a good opportunity to judge my character and say that i was lying. One said that i was an 'ugly woman', another that i was a 'psychiatric case with a history of suicide attempt', a post by a female ex student suggested that this was probably personal vendetta. Another female student said that it was the classic case of boy calling 'tiger tiger' twice when there was no tiger.

I really don't understand what they mean by personal vendetta. How i could have nurtured revenge against a person who never even taught me or never even talked to me unless he wanted to have sex with me. I do not understand what they mean by the tiger tiger allegory. Let me see when i called 'tiger tiger'. In first year when i protested against ragging where this female student was also present. She was also ragging her juniors. I couldn't give her name because i couldn't locate her on the picture book i was shown for identification. Bad with names, faces, directions etc. Inquiry committee found out that ragging had happened. Some students were suspended. The second time i called 'tiger tiger' was again with ragging. Then two women students including myself had gone to stop ragging and were surrounded by men, sworn at, and even physically assaulted. The inquiry committee, even after the junior students signing a letter saying that they were all there voluntarily, (the technique is called coercion) reported that ragging had happened.
So you see what i mean. The problem is not with the boy. The people who came to rescue him pretended not to see the tiger because they were tigers themselves or wanted to be tigers. Those who see the invisible tiger end up being ugly women and psychiatric cases.

Right now some of us are thinking of ways to address this problem. I still believe that change is happening. Men on campus now have to think twice before talking to a girl. Their fun is lost, and they are angry but that's okay. That was not fun itself to begin with. Professors will now think thrice before making any comment against women's dignity in classes and conversations. Good. That's how professors should be. And yes, if any other girl on campus is subjected to such harassment i will take to streets. Then there won't be anymore crying about reputation and the lack of it.

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