Christmas 2015: Friends and Foes. The Sexual Harassment Battle Continues

From Kunjila’s blog:

Hello again. I have uploaded this video to just say that i am. It is sad that even in this digital age when i am trying to express myself using online media with which i am comfortable, i am being asked things like ‘how do people know it’s you who is talking?’. Well, it is me who is talking.

[P.S. Today one of my friends asked me to not appear happy. Just want to make clear that i don’t want to cry or be with a sad face (the smirk is congenital). I may cry when i am alone in my room but never ever do i want my abuser to ever see me cry. I have survived. I won’t cry.]  

I am writing this blog post to update on the developments that have happened after i came out as the complainant who lodged the complaint against a professor in SRFTI who forced me to have sex with him. On 25th December 2015, Sri, whom i used to consider a friend, a student from the same batch as i, called up a meeting of all girls of the institute. The messages were on the whatsapp group which is called SRFTI General Body of which i am a member too. She had given the link to my blog post and the report in TOI. Another male batchmate remarked in the group that the last line of the report was ‘atrocious’.

Earlier in the mess when i was having food, on the table next to me a first year female student was talking about the report. She said that the earlier reports were fine but this time the news was ‘gandi’. I would like to know how a report about a sexual assault is ‘gandi’. Is it that she thinks that rape is something which can be called ‘gandi’ or is it that rape should not be reported at all because it is ‘gandi’?

Well, in the meeting which happened on the terrace which people here call the ragging terrace Sri, who had convened the meeting said that all of them had a problem with the last line in the report which was a quote from thetestimony that my friend Inji had given for me to the ICC.

She was scared her life will be ruined and that she also said it was considered a normal thing in her institute. She also said, women students who don’t agree to sleep with their professors would be outcasted.

This is how it read. I will make some things clear about this here now.

A meeting has been held against a girl’s sentence which spoke out that there was an atmosphere which was conducive for predators like the accused to have sexual relationships with students.

I had said this when i was trying hard to battle this man’s manipulation and abuse. Even yesterday there were people who blamed me for not having spoken to anybody on campus about what i was going through. Now that the attitude of even the women’s community in the institute regarding this matter is clear i shudder at the thought of how it would have been had i shared my problem with anyone in this institute.

There were students who said that people had already started asking them if they themselves had slept with some professor because that is what the statement implies. It is so ironical that nobody is realizing that there is an inherent problem with that question and that it is those who ask this question who should be questioned and not me.
Parents worried? They should be. If my parent knew that she was sending her daughter to a place where professors asked students for sexual favours she wouldn’t have let me go perhaps. As long as there are criminals like these lurking on campus it is not safe for women to be students here. One day or the other when they abusers thought was the right moment students would be asked the questions i was asked by the professors. ‘Why are we just talking and not kissing and having sex etc?’, ‘Have you read Disgrace by Coetzee?. Then you know what the story is, dear, I love you’. [Disgrace begins with the story of a professor who was suspended for having forced a student to have sex with him. Yes, i have read the book, and yes, this is what is called manipulation. Using a student’s reading habit to speak about one’s own perverseness].

There are going to be n number of articles. N number of reports. The girl students or any student can pick any line which they deem is hurting the reputation of the institute which they seem to be very worried about, in fact more worried than a girl who has suffered abuse, and deny those lines. That will not stop me from speaking out.

Why do i repeatedly say that the atmosphere is violent towards women and supporting sexual harassment? It is a pity that you have not understood it yet. I will elaborate nevertheless.

During the workshop which was held for my class by the professor against whom i have made the complaint, i was always expressing myself aloud in front of my classmates whom i considered friends. I now know that there were nothing close to friends. I used to exclaim how brilliant his classes were. It was immediately taken as ‘i am willing to sleep with him’. Can you tell me where, in which institution, in which grammar book of the language english is ‘i admire my teacher’ equivalent to ‘i want to have sex with him’ or ‘i am okay with anything he does to me’?
In the exercises that he made us do, often i was a model, along with other students in class as usual is the case when there are no others available. While reviewing those video clips in class the professor had made comments about my appearance. Of how he thought i was careless in applying kajal (kohl) and how it was smeared all over. Is this okay? I was sitting there in class and thinking why this was all made to look so normal. Nobody spoke a word. Everyone just laughed. I laughed along because hey, it was normal, right? That, my friends, is what is called atmosphere.
One day in class a classmate remarked to me, ‘you are soon going to be his bulbul’. I couldn’t make any sense out of it. I asked him what he meant. He exclaimed. ‘You don’t know bulbul?’. He told me how the professor had had a relationship with a senior girl student of the institute (i don’t know the nature of the relationship) and how he used to call her bulbul. This classmate went on to tell me that however hard i tried i could ‘never be his bulbul’. He had assumed that that was my mission. Remember? I liked his classes.
The professor himself once remarked to me, ‘You know it’s a really good thing that you are not from my department. (MPP). When i asked him why he said that he had been in a lot of trouble when ‘he was with’ the senior student i mentioned earlier. Is this enough to tell you all how casually a professor student relationship is viewed as something which can easily be anything it pleases? Sex, hanging out or ‘relationship’ or should i dig into the numerous other sexually coloured statements made in class by other professors as well?

In the meeting there was one gentleman whom i again used to think was my friend, who stood up to say how close he was to me. He said that my nature was to write about every small thing on my blog. He wondered why i had never written about this on my blog. Victim blaming is best nurtured in SRFTI. He also went ahead to say that he knew details about this ‘relationship’ and he knew that the details i had written in my blog were wrong.
Let me tell you once again. I had not spoken to a soul in this institute about what i was going through when it happened for the reasons i have already made clear. At this point i am even glad that i didn’t do that in the light of the comments that are coming up. It was after a month of suffering abuse that i spoke to my friend Inji whose testimony has been made public already. It was in July 2015, when i became close friends with a classmate of mine that i told him what the professor had done to me. My ex lover knew about it and did not do a thing to help me and in fact asked me to go ahead with it without letting anyone know. That was one of the major reasons for my break up with him in the same June 2014 that i had let the professor know that i was never ever going to agree to having sex with him. Oh yeah, that was when he said that he wanted to have a threesome with me and my then boyfriend.
About blog posts, yes, my blog has always been my platform to express myself without inhibition right from the time i complained against ragging and was outcast. No, i never wrote about the professor’s abuse except when i mentioned the time when i had given him a bookmark.

N and I became good friends post the workshop. I made a bookmark and gifted him in return for the mind blowing classes. The lines are his, from one of his poems.

This is what i had written about it. What didn’t i write? That he had written that poem in a bar in Ajaynagar on a tissue paper saying that ‘this will do to charm the socks off you’. That every time i spoke to him, every single moment when i was not being asked to have sex with him i wanted to make myself believe that it was all normal, like how people including you, mr ex-friend, forced me to believe. That was why Inji Pennu, had to talk to me for hours on end all the way from Miami, Florida to make me realize how much and how i had been abused by this man.

Well then, my friends here who are not my friends, two batchmates, a male and a female came to my room in the morning of 25th to express solidarity with me. They have not gone through the abuse i went through. They weren’t at the hospital when i tried to kill myself. They hardly speak to me otherwise. They don’t know the truth either. That’s what everyone is worried about now, right? In the night, after the meeting two female students came to me and expressed solidarity. They too did not speak of any truth as far as i remember. These people coming and talking was the only reason i could sleep on christmas night. Oh yeah, i am entitled to christmas celebrations and all that too. May be that was why one of them gave me kheer and some mutton she cooked?

No, dears, i do not want you rushing to my room with even one word to say that you are with me. I know that you are not. Some of the students who spoke yesterday were people who have always publicly admired Jadavpur University and its politics. Well, when a girl student was sexually assaulted in JU, the whole campus took to streets. Here i am, abused and harassed by professors, police, institute, classmates, strangers, media, ex-friends etc in a room in the institute in which sometimes i feel scared thinking of where all this is going. More than that, however, i feel bad thinking of all of you who do not seem to understand that you are being abused by the system and its power. The day it strikes you it’s going to be scary. It’s okay. I will understand.

Update: Was forced to leave the group called SRFTI General Body due to repeated harassment from students including members of the student general body. Was however deeply inspired when i saw this post by Nishtha Jain on facebook. I would like to repeat and quote her.

The fact is that most women don’t even realize that they are being sexually assaulted or coerced, they take it in their ‘stride’. Most women don’t report and that’s actually a disservice to other women.

Glad that she has also mentioned crimes like ragging against which i had protested twice in the institute and became an outcast for the longest time. Even today Sri told me that nobody stood with me during ragging because i was the only person who had a problem with it. Well looks like i am the only person who has a problem with a lot of things which are crimes, eh?

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