Days after Raya Sarkar, an Indian lawyer based in the United States, put out a list on her Facebook page, naming academics who have been accused of sexual harassment by students, Kolkata's Jadavpur University professor Abhijit Gupta has put up an empathetic post on Facebook saying, 'he understood the reason behind the post' and that 'institutions had failed the victims'. However, he later deleted the post presumably after facing a backlash.
Abhijit Gupta, a professor of English literature, wrote in the post, "While there are problems (articulated by many) about the ethics of public naming and shaming, I can see where many of the complainants are coming from. Many of them have sought and have been denied institutional and procedural justice, and have very few other options available. This is a poor reflection on the mechanisms of appeal and redress in educational institutions in south Asia."
He added that educators, including him, must acknowledge and reflect on their failure to provide for these mechanisms.
While asserting that he did not want to comment on the 'curation' of the list, and the methodology of data-collection' in the crowd-sourced Google document, Gupta said, "I am unable to own or rebut any charge since none has been made so far. However, as far as my primary constituency--my students in the department--are concerned, I invite them to speak directly to me about any question they might have about the present situation."
The professor further said that he had already started the process of addressing questions by asking students in a class he had taught and that he intended to carry on this process unless the current narrative changed dramatically.
He also made it clear that the post was an individual response and that he did not represent the other men who were named in the list.
"Many who have written on this subject have expressed reservations about the 'collateral damage' which might be caused to those on the list who have not had any specific charges against them. As one among them, I consider such 'collateral damage' as bearable, at least for the time being. I will of course be happy not to belong to such a list at all, but I am also willing to bear my share of the burden of responsibility," said professor Gupta.
Raya Sarkar's initiative comes after the #MeToo campaign where thousands of people spoke out on social media about being sexually harassed by powerful men, after actress' sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
A Facebook post by a woman lawyer Raya Sarkar inviting others to name academics who have sexually harassed their students had gone viral on Tuesday, with 58 professors listed by name and the institution they serve at.
The list includes several prominent academics from some of India’s premier academic institutions. Among them are 12 professors at Jadavpur University, nine at Delhi University, three each from Film and Television Institute (FTII) and SRFTI, two professors at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and one of them is a leading political theorist from the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences.