Kolkata: But in recent times, there have been winds of change. Not in the climbing number of perverts, but in the rising voices of survivors. Last Saturday, a lengthy Facebook post by a young student of Jadavpur University took social media by storm. She came forward to speak about the online sexual harassment she had been facing at the hands of a male classmate.
In the post, the girl called out her classmate, Ekalavya Chaudhuri, for having molested and sexually harassed her on multiple occasions. She also wrote about a female student from Presidency University, Janhabi Mukherjee, who took to bullying her after she lodged a complaint against Chaudhuri.
It’s worth a mention here that this young man happens to the son of a senior professor of JU’s English Department, who is said to be “protecting him”.
Nonetheless, the storm that this post stirred up has now lead to an uproar in JU, with undergrad students calling for a departmental boycott until rigorous steps are taken against Chaudhuri. Until legal proceedings bring results, the students are also demanding the removal of Chaudhuri’s mother, Professor Chandrayee Niyogi, from the post of Head of the Department.
Registrar Pradip Ghosh has confirmed that the girl had registered a formal complaint with the university, although police said they had not received a complaint. Meanwhile, the students threaten to continue the departmental boycott of classes.
Another female student of Jadavpur University Department of English (JUDE) put up a similar post about what she faced “at the vile hands of Ekalavya Chaudhuri”:
“Ekalavya molested me in 2015, exactly a week before my JU entrances, in his house. I had gone there to borrow books, if I remember right. He began hugging me abruptly, and pressing his face to mine, touching my knee, moving up to my thighs as I cringed away. He also abruptly grabbed me. When I shouted and pushed him away, he simply said in a tone that was slightly-shocked: “Ashte. Ma baire boshe. Shunte pele ki bhabbe?” (Quiet. My mother is sitting outside. What would she think if she heard?)”
And she is not the only one. Along with this girl, 11 other students too stepped forward and shared their experiences of being harassed by Ekalavya Chaudhuri. So, in total, 13 young women have come forward with their stories, some with evidence and screenshots of Chaudhuri’s perverse messages to them. Can they really all be lying?
These 13 women have banded together to issue a joint statement against Ekalavya Chaudhuri and Janhabi Mukherjee. Here’s what the statement says:
“We are a group of (up till now, 13) women and girls who have been harassed, both online and in person, by Ekalavya Chaudhuri, son of Chandrayee Niyogi, (Professor, Department of English) who is also a student of Jadavpur University, Department of English. We have been touched without our consent. We have been objectified filthily. We have been made to feel like pieces of meat by a man who is utterly despicable. He believes that his actions will not yield any consequences. In many cases, he has been aided and abetted by his acquaintance, Janhabi Mukherjee of Presidency University, Department of English. She has harassed and intimidated us both in virtual spaces and in person.
Jointly, they have both used their privilege to try and keep us silent. Jointly, they have violated our bodies and our minds. Jointly, they have attempted to erase our own agency over our lives. Not anymore.
Today, we speak out as survivors of these vile, poisonous human beings. Today, we take a stand against crimes against women, patriarchy, elitism, entitlement, privilege, and bullying. We take this stand to retake our agency, to re-establish the narratives that were taken from us.
Ekalavya Chaudhuri, you are a molester. A sex offender. A sexual predator. Janhabi Mukherjee, you aided and abetted in his crimes, and are no less guilty.
We hope that our stand will encourage others to come forward with their own experiences which they have kept silent about for whatever reasons. It’s time we all spoke up, it’s time we ripped all their masks off.
Thank you for your support.”
The original post of the young woman who broke her silence against Chaudhuri last Saturday was removed by Facebook after being reported against, as it was “not fitting in with Facebook’s Community Guidelines”. Luckily, she put up the post again on Monday.
The young woman has refused to speak to the media citing that while she finds their response “overwhelming”, she is “not in a state of mind to really provide more information”. Asking the following “status” to be taken as her statement, she requested to be anonymous.