Three victims of men named and shamed on sexual harassers' list speak up

The #MeToo movement gaining momentum, three strong voices who named the perpetrators on the list have shared their stories.

Published: 04th November 2017 09:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th November 2017 04:21 PM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes

By Online Desk

Following the publishing of lawyer Raya Sarkar’s list of sexual harassers in academia on her Facebook page (which is now defunct) and the #MeToo movement gaining momentum, three strong voices who named the perpetrators on the list have shared their stories. 

1) Nishtha Jain

Filmmaker, producer, FTII graduate and former faculty member Nishtha Jain, who directed the National Award-winning documentary ‘Gulabi Gang’, shared her story on Facebook after her alleged harasser, Arghya Basu (a former FTII faculty named on the list) rubbished claims against him and demanded proof.

Nishtha asks: “Please try to jog your memory a bit. You still cannot remember? Was it such an everyday, banal act that you don’t remember when you pounced and grabbed a woman, your friend and fellow filmmaker like a sexually frustrated maniac at a mutual friend’s party where your wife Rajula Shah and 20 other friends, artists and filmmakers were also present?”

She then goes on to describe in detail the incident: “Remember we were having an animated conversation while everyone else was in the main hall, sometimes coming into the kitchen to refill their plates or drinks. Do you remember when you suddenly started pawing me, grabbing me? Do you remember how I pushed you off and you still wouldn’t take off your hands from my breasts? Do you remember how I grabbed my bag from the living room and left the party? Do you remember following me out of the apartment, into the lift, all the time pawing me even as I entered the rickshaw?”

The incident left Nishtha shaken and she wonders if he was able to behave normally after that as if nothing had happened and if he had told his wife about it. She resisted from making a scene at the party, keeping in mind his wife and the host of the party.

She never received an apology or an explanation. “Next day, you sent me an SMS saying sorry. Nothing more. You didn’t feel the need to explain yourself or apologise in person. You called me once after a gap of a few years. ‘Hi Nishtha, I’m in Bombay, let’s meet up’ as if nothing had happened and everything was alright.”

Nishtha says she no longer looks at him as how she did in the past: “Last week, I told a friend that I put your name on the list. And she said, Good. But you have to admit he’s a good filmmaker. Yes, I said I liked his work and we loved to talk about cinema. Liked, but not like because to me today he’s just another man whose brain is on his penis.”

She reveals that she could have called him out at the party, even though ‘the room was full of feminists, filmmakers and artists, lawyers’ as she felt she would have been misunderstood. “I didn’t do that because 1) I was in a state of shock. 2) I was conflicted 3) Perhaps, I shamed myself quietly?”

“What should be/have been the due process in such a case? Should I have filed an FIR?...  If a Facebook post, a name in the list can do the job, then why should I go through further harassment and humiliation of filing formal complaints and dealing with a misogynist and morally bankrupt system?”, asks Nishtha Jain for whom, like every other woman, Arghya is just one name on ‘a short-list of grabbers and a long list of gropers.’

While Nishtha isn’t sure whether she wants punitive action against the men, she says: I want an acknowledgement of the act. A sincere public apology. If Arghya denies this incident altogether and if his friends and wife jump to his rescue, then I would know that I did absolutely the right thing by putting his name on the list.”


2) Dr Sylvia Karpagam

Dr Sylvia Karpagam, a well-known public health doctor based in Karnataka, wrote her story ‘My 20 year search for ‘due process’ till the list arrived’ on

As a postgraduate in the department of community medicine at St John’s Medical College, Bengaluru, she faced numerous unpleasant incidents with her Head of the Department. The professor had a reputation for making inappropriate comments, using sexually loaded language and touching female students unwantedly. Everybody had heard stories but chose to ignore them.

“He had this habit of creeping up behind women and putting his hands on whichever part of their body was exposed - their neck, shoulders, arms, waist and when the women jumped up, he would laugh excitedly like a naughty boy caught doing mischief. The effect of this lingers till today whenever I sit in a room working on my laptop with my back exposed - an unpleasant sensation of something nasty going to creep up behind me,” she wrote in her post.

 “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?

“At the age of 23, I complained about the Head of Department, Community medicine. I gave a written letter to the then dean Dr Mary Ollapally. I met her personally and waited while she read through the letter. Her response was, ‘Be careful of him. He is vindictive’.”

Karpagam even wrote letters, talked on Facebook groups with alumni from St Johns’ all over the world, and no due process was set in motion. Nothing came out of it.

Karpagam says that the man recently mentioned at a reunion that he was teaching a life skills course for the girls of Nivas College, Bengaluru and had taken some of their WhatsApp numbers so that they could ‘talk to him privately without feeling shy’. Dr Karpagam hopes that the man’s name on the list will serve as a warning for those girls and that they would block him.

What due process could not do for her, the list will, she feels.


3) Anonymous

Raya Sarkar posted the testimony of this anonymous survivor on her Facebook page where she states that she’s sharing her story because her alleged harasser Ben Zachariah had publicly demanded why his his name was mentioned on the list.

Editor's Note: The anonymous person whose account was quoted here has said that the testimony was shared on Facebook only among friends and was not meant for public consumption. The account has therefore been removed.

The writer had said on the original post: "I reserve my right to not engage at this moment and don’t want to be trolled for this. Kindly do not share this post. Copy and paste if you want. I am on a vacation and don’t want him or anything to do with him to f&$# my peace of mind again."

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