Kolkata, Dec 28: National award winner Nishtha Jain, who helmed documentary “Gulabi Gang”, has supported women students of the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) who complained about sexual harassment by professors and fellow students, and also protested the subsequent “witch-hunting” of one of the complainants. Three male faculty members were suspended by the SRFTI over allegations of sexual harassment levelled by some women students.
In a Facebook post on December 26, Jain said: “I’m really glad that women of SRFTI and FTII are speaking against sexual assault/coercion/rape by their professors/fellow students during ragging or otherwise. “Most of us let these incidents pass or we blame ourselves, our drunkenness or our inability to push away the aggressor. We actually feel sorry, forgive and protect these aggressors because they are our teachers and or friends. (ALSO READ: “I was six or seven years old when I was first molested”: Watch DU girls share their first sexual harassment experiences)
“It’s a bit disappointing though that on the couple of occasions I mentioned these incidents in the company of FTII graduates, they either doubted the women or found excuse for occasions like ragging.” Jain also regretted not reporting “several such incidents, including those that took place in FTII” because she knows “these men are serial violators”. “There should be a ‘violator list’ that women should circulate so that their fellow students/colleagues/friends can be made aware about the violator i.e if the women don’t want to go all the way to the police or the court.”
However, on Sunday, the documentary maker said she was “shocked” and “disappointed” with some of the responses to her post where, instead of coming out in support of these women students of SRFTI, “students are actually spreading wrong information about one of the complainant and are talking in terms of her bringing shame to the institute”.
She appealed to the students to stand by these women. “Your institute’s honour will be in standing with the women who have complained and creating an atmosphere where women/men/transgender/trans-sexual feel safe to live and complain if need be.” She added: “There is an internal committee which is headed by a very capable person and the committee should be allowed to do its job. Please do not behave like feudal societies and indulge in witch-hunting.”