Facebook List Naming Profs as Sexual Harassers Sparks Fiery Debate
Social media is split over a woman’s Facebook post accusing over 50 professors of sexual harassment.
Raya Sarkar, a lawyer living in California, put up a Facebook post on 23 October, accusing two Jadavpur University political science professors of sexual harassment. She invited others to send her names of academics who have sexually harassed students, or have displayed sexually predatory behaviour.
At the time of writing, the list has more than 60 names of professors and academicians. The names on the list are being fed into an accompanying Excel sheet, which includes details of the accused – like their designations and the universities they are employed with. The names include teaching staff from Delhi, Kerala, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Pune and Gujarat. It also includes professors who are employed in the USA or the UK.
In another Facebook post, Raya wrote that she had been sent a number of accounts, including from anonymous senders and that she was adding the names to the list only after discussing the details of the incident with the complainants. She writes that some of the victims have sent her screenshots to back their claims.
Social Media Divided Over Post
The Facebook post comes close on the heels of the #MeToo social media campaign that encouraged women to post "me too" on their social media platforms if they have ever been sexually harassed or assaulted. After the hashtag took over social media, Christine Fair, in a blog on Huffington Post, promoted #HimToo — a hashtag campaign aimed at calling out the perpetrators of sexual assault. The blog was later deleted from the website.
Reactions to Raya’s post range from shock and disgust, to criticism. In a statement on Kafila.online, a number of prominent feminists expressed reservation about the manner in which the campaign had been carried out.
The statement – titled ‘Statement by feminists on Facebook campaign to Name and Shame’ – is signed by academics like Brinda Bose, Nivedita Menon, Ayesha Kidwai, activist Kavita Krishnan and Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover, among others.
We are dismayed by the initiative on Facebook, in which men are being listed and named as sexual harassers with no context or explanation... it worries us that anybody can be named anonymously, with lack of answerabilityExcerpt from Statement by feminists on Facebook campaign to Name and Shame, Kafila Online
“This manner of naming can delegitimise the long struggle against sexual harassment, and make our task as feminists more difficult,” the statement reads.
Interestingly, the statement requests that the Facebook post be withdrawn, with the caveat that those who have submitted the names lodge official complaints and ‘follow due process’.
The Kafila statement has garnered a mixed response from students, faculty and activists, with Raya responding that she stands by her Facebook post.
‘More Harm Than Good’
‘Passive Victim Blaming Again’
‘A Radical Move’
‘Problematic for Various Reasons’
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