DECOLONIAL FEMINIST STATEMENT ON #METOO IN KASHMIR
Tag: Sexual Harassment
The article by Shiv Visvanathan “The Chilly justice of the Gulag” in the Outlook is a revealing indictment of all (and more) that is wrong with our Indian academia.
NEHU needs a change, it needs a change in the mindset on how to tackle problems and figure out solutions. We cannot just leave NEHU believing it will get better because it won’t. Sexual harassment cases are piling up, and students are too afraid to even put forth a complaint because when they do, the teachers are at times reinstated, which does not make sense and speaks of complete injustice.
An essay by Divya Dwivedi and Shaj Mohan on the meaning of the moment of “the list”with an account of the history of postcolonial feminism, and concerns about technology and its reach into what should be the domain of free and consensual exploration of desires.
As the youngest member of my department, I am frustrated. I am frustrated for many reasons, official and non-official alike, one being this – I feel I am the biggest hypocrite in the world- I teach my students the significance of women’s rights, activism and women’s jurisdiction but in reality, I don’t even have that iota of power to stretch out my hands to them, hug them, and tell them that-We will be taking some concrete steps!
The conversation with Vinita Chandra of Ramjas College, Delhi was conducted by Rochelle Pinto to address the fact that the process of filing a complaint against sexual harassment in a university and the details of the law were not widely known, adding uncertainty to what is likely to be a difficult decision. Ramjas College had sustained a working unity among a group of teachers that enabled the functioning of a committee to deal with sexual harassment. The following is an account of what an institution can become if about four or five people withstand the pressures on organizations that protects the rights of its members. Ramjas is not the only college to have a committee that enjoys credibility, but it belongs to a small minority of institutions that have sustained the process. The majority of educational institutions in the country have a different story.
Internet activists and the government form a strange alliance to destroy long-standing feminist attempts at creating conditions for justice in cases of sexual harassment in educational institutions,” says Ashley Tellis
The list by Raya Sarkar raises questions that were, deliberately or otherwise, ignored and silenced increasingly over the years. The problems of male entitlement and casteist bias stand exposed in the names of the people in the list. We can’t therefore afford to dismiss the urgent resolving of these problems within our revolutionary politics and its practice. Our Parties and Organizations are filled to the brim with such people who wouldn’t baulk an inch if they had the chance to sexually harass or rape a woman. Our sole obsession with class struggle has made us blatantly ignorant of the gender question. These are legitimate critiques which this list has raised and which we need to address.
Yes, procedures and institutions have often failed us, but a feminist politics demands that we continue the struggle to make these processes more robust. Let me reiterate that I believe that testimonies are certainly a strong feminist strategy, but not the simple naming of people with no context or explanation. There is no easy fix. The building of feminist cultures requires taking responsibility for lengthy struggles, building of solidarities, rethinking of strategies from time to time, engaging in dialogue with mutual trust.
I am not very hopeful that the trust that has been so wantonly destroyed can be rebuilt very easily.
My only hope is that the list does not remain a list, but goes on further to secure some form of justice. It would be great to see older feminist activists, the ones we look up to, come forward and offer assistance to the victims and assure them of support. So that they can shed their anonymity and take on their perpetrators. It would be the logical conclusion to see those who keep talking of institutional redressal, actually offer some redressal to the victims by assuring that their institutions will seriously probe all complains. Unless, these are assured, this will remain another FB viral sensation to be forgotten within 3 months and I sincerely hope that this does not happen.
I have one simple question to the proponents of “The List”, what are we going to do next after this? I am not talking about preparing other lists; let us focus on this one for now. Assuming people named on the ‘list’ are actual perpetrators of sexual harassment, they might have a change of heart and rectify themselves after this social media outrage. Or else, they will get back at the complainants very nastily. Given our experiences, the latter seems more probable. The list has not given justice to anyone, it has only named and shamed people, most of them are highly placed and powerful.
As a student, I remember this surgeon, who took about 12 of us students, mostly male, on rounds, stripped a young woman upto her waist, without any form of consent and proceeded to ‘palpate’ her breasts the entire 15 minutes that he was ‘teaching’ us. What is my memory of that? My memory is filled with guilt – that I didn’t intervene, that I didn’t slap him, that I didn’t complain. What are women like us to do with guilt such as that? Where was ‘due process’ then and where is it now?
The fact is that it is too late to debate process vs. anonymous accusations. The deed has been done and from all accounts the list will expand. It serves no purpose to post facto discuss what should have been or what could be. All of us have always known the stink pit that all institutions are as far as masculinities and sexual harassment are concerned. The problem that we are facing today is that our dear friends and acquaintances occupy the list and it may at a later date also come out that some should not have been on that list. The question that is bothering me is whether my discomfort with this naming exercise would be as strong and as acute and as urgent if those being named were not from largely my side of the fence? My hunch is that most of us would be baying for blood with scant respect for process or principles.
Each instance of alleged sexual harassment needs to be examined and dealt with on its own merit – with due process available both to the accused and to the accuser. Sweeping, anonymously driven collective assertions of the culpability of a cluster of named and shamed persons violates the principles of the need for rigourous individual examination of each instance, with due attention to the testimonies of victims and the defences of the accused, without which justice and resolution can never be served.
Over the last two days, my facebook has gone on overdrive with feminists finding themselves in polarised positions against the list of perpetrators that Raya Sarkar, a Dalit lawyer in California circulated on facebook after compiling the names of some powerful men in the academic world and alleged sexual harassers. Some feminists as mouthpieces for the entire community wrote an apology of an article in kafila urging that the list be taken down for it violates ‘due process’ of law. Other feminists have come out in full support and some have taken the middle ground, allowing themselves to articulate their confusions, while many have remained mum for the more one thinks about it the more contradictory one seems to become.
I don’t disagree that there are problems with this list but in relation to complaints through GSCASHs and similar structures, there are problems in ‘due-procedures’ and their own guidelines are often deeply flawed. The very procedures designed to protect complainants have been used against complainants again and again. I wish that this list on facebook opened up a debate of the lack of structural integrity in GSCASHs and ICCs, instead of what is happening right now.
Naturally, there are sexual relationships between men and women within activist spaces and organisations, but male entitlement combined with a privileged position, and a significant follower/comrade base provides a sense of dangerous impunity to these men. As a result of this, there are various cases of asymmetrical power relations between men and women, which translates into sexual harrassment at work and intimate partner abuse or both.
The Bharatiya Janata Party in Tamil Nadu has decided not to take the exit of V. Shanmuganthan as governor of Meghalaya in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment lying down. The party is launching a counter assault by saying that Shanmuganathan – a top-ranking party and RSS leader before he was handpicked by Narendra Modi for the plum assignment in 2015 – lost his job because of his “tireless” fight against religious conversions in general and in the northeast in particular.
As RAIOT reported, the story of shocking acts at the Raj Bhavan, Shillong doesn’t seem to be dying down.
Thma U Rangli-Juki/TUR is shocked at the allegations reported in the media about the ‘inappropriate’ behaviour by the Governor of Meghalaya Shri V Shanmuganathan towards women job applicants. The Governor is quoted as saying:
This avalanche of cases of sexual abuse by public servants in Meghalaya can only be stopped if people demand for a just and efficient mechanism which would address systemic sexism and gender violence. We need to collectively demand for a speedy and thorough investigation into this case, and for the larger implementation of the SH Act in government offices, which would help rectify the fact that public offices have become hotbeds of sexual assault.
Thma U Rangli-Juki/TUR’s short guide to The Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace
(Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Act, 2013
LBWWWWW ESCALATION!!!! #JustShillongThings. SHILLONG FTW reads the weather
Authorities tasked with the safeguard and pursuit of students’ welfare and interest devote themselves to undermine and harm the very wards of the university. Repeat sexual offenders are appointed as professors and allowed to roam freely despite the mountain of evidence proving their guilt.
Video Testimony of the mother of the girl who is at the center of these latest killing by the Indian forces in Kashmir.