A list of 61 ‘sexual predator academics‘ across the country and universities abroad posted on Facebook is drawing mixed response. While many welcomed it, several feminists are questioning the list, “where men are being listed and named as sexual harassers with no context or explanation”.
A law student from California’s UC Davis School of Law, Raya Sarkar, drew up the list. She posted it on Facebook on October 24 at 12.25 am.
Sarkar formulated this list with the help of anonymous survivors’ accounts and the accounts of their friends. Not all are first person accounts. While one can access the list on FB, which has the names of the professors and the universities they belong to, there is another list in a Google spreadsheet which also reveals details of the sexual abuse.
“Most–if not all–are first person accounts of people who were molested/sexually harassed by the people who have been put on this list. Rest are a friend they (the victims) have chosen to specifically contact me as they fear their identity being disclosed. In fact, since there is a disturbing amount of rape apologia and victim blaming the victims have gone out of their way to show me screenshots of them being harassed and abused by the people they have named,” wrote Sarkar in one of the comments.
The list comprises 12 professors from Jadavpur University, 9 from Delhi University and two from JNU. Three each from the Film and Television Institute and Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute. And one of them is a leading political theorist from the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences
The list also consists of 31 others working at Oxford University, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, University of California Santa Cruz, Ambedkar University Delhi, EFLU – Hyderabad, Christ University.
“I do not belong to the Indian jurisdiction, so if they have to file defamation cases against me, they will have to do that either in Singapore (my home state) or in the US, where I currently reside”
Sarkar revealed why she is acting on behalf of the victims. “I do not belong to the Indian jurisdiction, so if they have to file defamation cases against me, they will have to do that either in Singapore (my home state) or in the US, where I currently reside. The victims are scared of legal and professional retaliation. I have a full list of all the victims too, but I will absolutely not disclose it without each of their consent,” she said in the comments to her post.
If anyone feels betrayed that I object to name-and-shame **IN PRINCIPLE***
here is my response. Keyword here is IN PRINCIPLE. pic.twitter.com/2NeeRPmpCX
— Sujatha Gidla (@gidla_sujatha) October 26, 2017
Social media erupts
Social media has erupted over Sarkar’s post. Currently, 678 people have shared it and over a thousand have reacted to the post. Feminists Ayesha Kidwai, Kavita Krishnan, Nivedita Menon, Vrinda Grover etc. released a statement taking cognizance of it.
“We are dismayed by the initiative on Facebook, in which men are being listed and named as sexual harassers with no context or explanation. One or two names of men who have been already found guilty of sexual harassment by due process, are placed on par with unsubstantiated accusations,” said the statement.
— Rita Banerji (@Rita_Banerji) October 25, 2017
Krishnan, secretary of All Indian Democratic Women’s Association, spoke with SheThePeople.TV. She said, “Our concern is not about victims naming the academics who have harassed them. It is the fact that it is an anonymous list where there is no distinctions made that concerns us. We have no clue about the nature of the allegations against them. Is it sexual harassment, is it rape, is it inappropriate behaviour? So it is an undifferentiated list of names.”
“We have problem with the process of the list’s curation and promotion,” she added.
“Our concern is not about victims naming academics who have harassed them. It is the fact that it is an anonymous list where there is no distinctions made that concerns us. We have no clue about the nature of the allegations against them. Is it sexual harassment, is it rape, is it inappropriate behaviour? So it is an undifferentiated list of names,” – Kavita Krishnan
On Sarkar being proxy to such a large pool of cases, Krishnan said, “Then she is acting as the only due process and replacing all legal processes. She has made it very clear that the complaints don’t have to be first person accounts. My concern is when you are saying that I am the only process immediate. Hence, should any individual have that power? What are the checks and balances on that power? Will a person accused on this list has no right whatsoever to appeal or question?”
My take – ‘It’s like blackening faces’: Why I am uneasy with the name and shame list of sexual harassers https://t.co/LiCdQibqOB
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) October 25, 2017
“I can understand why this feels satisfying because there is a lot of impunity out there. Several men enjoy a lot of impunity and all our institutions, including the academia. So I do understand the urge to do this and the place where it comes from. But we cannot throw away basic principle of the legal process no matter how flawed it is,” Krishnan told us.
SheThePeople.TV approached Sarkar for her comments but she is yet to respond.
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