Several serious allegations of sexual harassment against students and a case of alleged rape perpetrated by a faculty member has rocked the Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute (SRFTI) in Kolkata of late.
Three teachers of the institute have already been suspended after the complaints emerged earlier this month, and the committee probing the complaints has submitted its primary report this week to the police.
On Christmas eve, one of the complainants published a blog post narrating the sexual harassment battle at SRFTI. The complainant is a student of direction in the institute and hails from Kerala.
You can read the blog here.
She has complained against two professors and one student in the institute for allegedly sexually harassing her. "The institute acted upon one of my complaints because they found it to be extremely serious. They forwarded the complaint to the police," she wrote in the blog in which describes the abuse she had been facing in silence for over a year.
Stating what happened to her, she further wrote,
"I was raped by a professor of SRFTI in the year 2014.
I was coerced into having sex with him.
I was physically abused by him. He slapped me once and tried to strangle me while sexually abusing me once.
He forced me to have unprotected sex with him saying that he had an erection problem.
He asked if he could have a threesome with me and my then boyfriend.
He used all his power as a professor here to intimidate me into silence."
When TOI approached Biren Das Sharma, a faculty member of the direction department, and asked him about the nature of the complaints, he said, "We have been specially asked not to speak on this."
Speaking to The News Minute, the complainant says she kept quiet about the abuse all this while because she was frightened.
"I was very scared. I found it very difficult to speak about it with my friends. I did not think anyone would support me as I was complaining against officials who held powerful posts in the institute," she says.
It was following her complaint, she says, that the Internal Complaints Committee was revived and several other students also addressed their complaints to the Committee, some verbally, while others in written form.
"I realized," she wrote, "that all that was lacking till then was such a platform. The complaints were many and serious and outrageous. The kind of harassment that was happening in the institute had to be stopped quickly."
She feels there is a need for a functional platform for those facing sexual harassment to go to and address their complaints.
While the faculty at the institute has been supportive of her, the police were initially insensitive towards her.
On the night of December 23, the complainant was caught unaware when the police came looking for her in the hostel uninformed. They were there to take her testimony. "The male police officer was jumpy and was shouting most of the time. He iced his behaviour by asking me if i could give him my rapist's number. I asked him to return with a lady police officer who spoke English and to speak sensibly to me," she wrote.
"Abusers feel that they are strong and that their victims are weak and naive. I want to them to know that I know what they think. I want people to know that what happened to me was an injustice and that no one should face this ever," she says.
Concluding her blog, she wrote, "To those on campus and elsewhere who have come up with 'but we thought it was consensual' lines, [one of the lines i heard here was 'but they looked so happy together'!] Well, to them i have to say that i remember my 'no's'. If you still haven't got it, NO only and always means NO. I know when a person is happy she doesn't cry every night and resort to masochism by scarring her wrist. And once and for all, what you think doesn't matter. When i say that it was not consensual, i mean it as i know it."
For now, the complainant is back to working on her projects and is hopeful of the change that is happening around her.