Dear Friends and Comrades in SRFTI,
We, as fellow students, feel urgency in writing to you in the light of the series of incidents unfolding in your institute.
We do not want to fix guilt on the accused nor assume that they have been unfairly accused. Just and proper processes need to be put into place to ensure that justice is delivered to all. Activating the ICC was a step in the right direction. But ever since the incidents on campus and now the maligning of the ICC makes us wonder how you perceive justice and gender vulnerabilities.
The victimization of the sexual harassment complainants from within the community is shocking for all of us. The vigorous attempt to prove that the ICC is biased without giving instances of procedural lapses appears like a witch hunt. It is horrible to see that the highly dangerous and misogynist statements like "taali ek haath se nahi bajta hai" and "SRFTI's dirty linen should not be washed in public" are made by the Chairperson of the Institute and students have not objected.
This collective attitude towards gender issues is disturbing. Many of you have felt that one complainant is provocative and too aggressive in pursuing the charges she has made. To counter this, her personal life is being flaunted to discredit her complaints. Is this what we as a community of cinema lovers want to be? Future generations of film students will look back at us and see the precedence we are setting. Those who feel vulnerable would never feel the confidence to come forward with such issues.
We love our cinema. We love our campus. Yes, this is a safe, free space for many of us. But is this what our cinema and freedom teaching us? To shut down people whose voices we do not like? How will gender justice be served at least in our higher educational institutes which are alive with major students' movements? How will sexual minorities feel safe here? We would like say that we are asking these questions to ourselves as well, here at FTII.
Our society is patriarchal and misogynist, in general and of course, we are not living on Islands. But it doesn't mean that we should let it happen where ever we live. Our whole struggle is to make the world a little better for everybody to live with equal rights. As we already said, our higher educational institutes are the places from where new student movements are raising up and that is the only ray of hope left for all of us in this fascist regime. So, as students, we have the moral responsibility to be sensitive enough to handle gender issues, at least within our own campuses. We also talk about this in the light of certain incidents that have happened on our campus as well, at various points of times in the past. In our higher educational institutes, we still don't have a proper system in place for the redressal of such complaints. FTII itself is an example where we
don't have a single female faculty in the film wing and it is high time for us to bring in gender balance.
Many of our faculty members are people we respect and with whom we share a warm camaraderie. But the faculty and administration at both SRFTI and FTII are primarily men. This makes for a somewhat skewed understanding and response to the issues around sexual harassment. As student communities we need to address this and find a language to speak about gender vulnerabilities without being dismissive of the same. Yes, both our campuses are liberal, safe spaces for many of us but that does not mean that transgressions can never occur. It is how we respond to this that counts. As of now it appears as if both our campuses wants to put a lid on any talk in this direction, to the extent of maligning both the complainants and the official members of the committee that is supposed to provide justice.
Our failure in addressing any such issue systematically within the campuses will only dilute the philosophy of these spaces and will only lead into the intervention of the state forces with dangerous code of conducts which can actually damage the soul of our liberal values in today's scenario. Having a police station inside the campuses or paramilitary forces roaming in and around won't do any good to anyone of us in any case and that can never be a solution to address gender issues.
For too long, we have ignored it systematically and encouraged cynicism about how complaints of sexual harassment are dealt with at an institutional level. We appeal to the students of SRFTI to have faith in the legally set up ICC, a system that feminists have fought for over the years to make institutions a safe space for women. To hound a fellow student is contradictory to the spirit of the progressive politics that the students of SRFTI have stood for the past so many years.
This is a historic moment for you all to take a stand that can teach many lessons to other student communities including ours. The events unfolding in SRFTI actually forced all of us to introspect. We look up to you with the hope that you show restrain and maturity at this point of time.
Love and Greetings
Students' Association, FTII Youtube- ftiistudentsbodyPgmail.com, https://www.facebook.comipages/FTII-Wisdom-Tree
Extremely happy about this primarily because it means that change is happening. People are re-thinking, re-evaluating and it's as if a small sprout has started peeping from earth at the wide blue sky. I joined SRFTI in November 2012 and this is the first time that FTII has joined a cause which started in SRFTI and expressed support and solidarity this way. What a beginning it has been with the issue being that of sexual harassment on campuses. We'll definitely make better films due to this process which has changed us all together.