Published: 04th May 2019
Kolkata Shocker: Presidency University student accuses male student of forced oral sex, says complaint cell is defunct
Brishti Sen Banerjee said she was scared to complain because the accused was politically active and quite famous on campus
Brishti Sen Banerjee, a second-year post-graduate student of the Sociology department of Kolkata's Presidency University accused Ayan Chakrobarty, a student of the Bengali Department, of sexually harassing and molesting her. Brishti wrote in a Facebook post on May 2 that in May last year Ayan a student of the Bengali department coerced her to perform oral sex on him and later repeatedly insisted on having sex with her even after she vehemently refused to do so.
Brishti's post stated that Ayan had done the same with another student at the institute even a few days ago. And this prompted her to put her narrative on a public domain to make others aware of the person in question and to encourage others to come out and share if they had been victims of similar crimes. "A few days back, I heard another narrative of the same guy trying to force himself upon another girl in almost the same pattern, as he did with me. It was then clear to me; it is not any misunderstanding but a particular pattern which he follows which needs to be reported. Hence after around 10 months, I am writing about this, knowing the attacks, defamation and questions I am about to face. I was discouraged to go forward as the person in question is famous in the campus and also politically active, hence enjoys a status position. I accept it that I should have spoken about this earlier, but I believe it should depend upon the victim/survivor when she wants to speak about it, and time shouldn't ideally act as a barrier or even a factor in this case," Brishti wrote in her post.
The Presidency University Cell against Sexual Harassment (PU CASH) accepts complaints from the students only within three months of the incident, which Brishti said is not just problematic but ridiculous. "It's not just that. You need a witness and concrete proof against the accused. But fulfilling these clauses are impossible. What do they want us to do? Record our every move?" asked Brishti. "The PU CASH is almost not functional anymore. All of us who have been victims of similar incidents have written to the Dean of Students, Arun Kumar Maiti, and are awaiting his reply. We have not lodged a police complaint yet. We will approach the Dean on Monday and demand those accused should be held accountable for their action. We also want to ask the administration to revamp the PU CASH as well and include student representatives in the body. That way the victims would be comfortable to open up," Brishti told Edex.
What came to light after she posted her ordeal online is that other female students and alumni also came out with similar allegations against fellow male students, who they said were never apprehended because of blatant hypocrisy in the name of progressive politics.
In another Facebook post by an alumnus of the institute, Madubanti Talukdar, who was studying BA Sociology there from 2013 to 2016, narrates a horrific molestation incident and how the perpetrators have always gotten away with it as no steps were taken against them and the leaders of students' unions did not even make any effort to condemn these acts in public. "I remember Manali's post about a certain Sayan back in April 2017; the guy was not a student of Presidency but an extremely close associate of the leaders of IC, CAP and Ordhek Akash (a student magazine). The very people who used to throng the streets claiming for justice for rape victims and screaming their lungs out about women's rights were surprisingly quiet every time one of their own was accused. In fact, they themselves sat in various corners of the campus discussing women in the most vulgar and demeaning ways possible. Women were also 'rated' according to these parameters by the great progressive leaders of the university," Madubanti wrote in her post.
Some of the ex-students have also said that not only women but men who did not conform to the hypermasculine ideals of IC (Independent Consolidation- a students' organisation) were also subject to horrifying ordeals. Female students were also publicly body shamed making it seem like it was all in good humour. "I was subject to a lot of fat shaming and body shaming from a lot of seniors, especially the politically active dadas who claimed themselves to be the harbinger of revolution. My skin colour was a constant point of joke song them. Also, there was this trend of slut-shaming women who were open about their sexuality. Also, all the body shaming was done with a subtle touch of love, like we are all a family, and this kind of bullying is normal. It was all under the garb of love and comradeship. To be very honest, I am happy it is coming out. When I was in college, I didn't have this articulation. A lot of us didn't, we thought it was fun. But soon I realised it is their fun at the cost of my deprecation," said an alumnus, from the Class of 2015, who studied Sociology at Presidency. She wanted to remain anonymous as she could have to bear the brunt for talking about the issues even now.
Another alumnus from the Class of 2014 echoed the same thoughts, "There have been proven allegations like Brishti's in the past as well and people chose to cover it up with political colours. Previous union presidents have also had allegations against them but no one ever did anything about it."