Ms. Debamitra Mitra
Director, Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute
UPDATE: 20 July 2019
I must tell you about the *exciting conversation I had with the complainant* at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI).
She told me that she got a *helpful and productive call* from Ananya Singh, *Counselor at the National Commission for Women* (NCW). Ms. Singh told her about her options to counter the sham Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) report -- the complainant has chosen to seek support from the student body at the college.
The student body, in solidarity with the complainant, has now *sent a letter to the Governing Council* at SRFTI explaining how the *“ICC report is a mockery of justice.”*
As we recall, the management at SRFTI has *broken the code of conduct* in handling the case several times -- from *revealing the name of the complainant* to *body-shaming* her, from *missing the ICC deadline* to ignoring the pleas of the complainant.
The only tactic that worked for them *to take sexual harassment case seriously was public pressure.* We want to continue building that pressure with *member calls and social media pushes.* Pitch in today to build a safer college environment.
UPDATE: 05 July 2019
Ananya Singh, Counselor at the National Commission for Women (NCW) called me last Friday.
She was checking up on the mishandled sexual harassment case at the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI).
I informed her that the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) report is out and not in favour of the complainant.
This is the best part! She said, “We will call the complainant and give her options on how she can challenge the verdict if she wishes to.”
Apart from SRFTI’s student body, the complainant now has support from NCW. This is a significant milestone -- but not the end. We need your help to sustain pressure on the director.
UPDATE: 04 June 2019
Guess what happened at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) -- within two days of Jhatkaa.org members bombarding emails to SRFTI, they released an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) report on the sexual harassment case.
SRFTI had been sitting on a case for six months after the complainant accused a staff of harassing her on campus. Not only did the committee missed the deadline but also body-shamed the complainant during the proceedings. Now, the report is finally out!
However, the ICC report is not what we had expected after six months of difficult wait. It reads: “The ICC recommends that the accused needs to be inquired into”
Wasn’t that supposed to be done already as part of ICC proceedings? Tell SRFTI director that we will not take this "for-the-sake-of-it ICC report.
29 May 2019
That’s how many emails Jhatkaa.org members have sent to Ms. Debamitra Mitra, Director of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) asking about the missing Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) report.
The complainant is overwhelmed with the support she has received. As next steps, we are putting together a formal complaint addressed to the National Commission for Women (NCW). For this, we need your help -- help us build more pressure by sending an email to the Director.
We must rally our support for the complainant who continues to be harassed by the ICC. The POSH Act mandates that the ICC must keep the complainant informed at all times. However, SRFTI’s ICC is refusing to cooperate with the complainant -- they have not answered any of her emails or phone-calls.
24 April 2019
I spoke with the sexual harassment survivor at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) just this morning.
“I'm continuously sending out reminders to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) about updates on my case. The three-month window to submit the investigation report passed long ago. I registered the complaint in the first week of December 2018,” she informed.
SRFTI has already flouted the ICC proceedings by revealing the name of the complainant and now they have missed the deadline to release their report. Ask them to handover the report ASAP.
Every day that the ICC delays with their report, is one more day that the accused roams around on the campus. Let’s not allow SRFTI to get more lethargic while dealing with sensitive cases.
26 March 2019
Just when I thought the sexual harassment case at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) couldn’t get any worse -- I received a letter from the complainant.
She was asked the following questions on record by members of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC):
What was she wearing when the incident happened?
If someone grabs her from behind, she should have fallen. Why didn't she fall?
She was even body-shamed by the Presenting Officer of the ICC. He stated that he didn't expect her to be so young as he found that she had grey hair.
This is outright victim-shaming. How can the complainant expect a fair investigation when she is harassed even by members of the ICC? Tell SRFTI director Dr Debamitra Mitra that this horrific conduct will not be tolerated.
First, the complainant’s identity was revealed by the Director. Then, no action was taken against the accused, even though there is an investigation against him. And now, this kind of victim-shaming.
12 Feb 2019
A sexual harassment complainant’s identity was revealed by Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) Director Ms. Debamitra Mitra.
This is a massive breach of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act (PoSHA). Students at the institute are determined to get justice, and have taken to social media to rally public support.
If we do not support the students now, the authorities will continue flouting the law with impunity. SRFTI administration must know we are watching -- and feel the pressure to start an ICC investigation and suspend the accused professor until formal recommendations are made.
Last year, a non-teaching staff member harassed the complainant twice. After gathering courage, the complaint sent a formal complaint to the director through the student body in December 2018.
Instead of assuring confidentiality and following due process, the complainant was “requested” to “forgive” the accused.
“I am selfish about my department. If we shift (the accused), who knows everything about our department, any other staff who comes in will be lazy.”
-- said a male professor who was asked to handle the case.
The complainant then turned to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for justice. The inquiry didn’t last long -- after the ICC’s reconstitution, there has been no movement on the case. “They never took any punitive action against the harasser,” confirmed the complainant. The accused non-teaching staff continues to be present on campus.
This insincere and casual approach towards sexual harassment is exactly the kind of obstacle we want to do away with. Ask SRFTI Director Ms. Debamitra Mitra to formally suspend the accused until the ICC comes up with its recommendations.
This incident reveals just how complicated it is for complainants to get institutions to follow due process when it comes to tackling sexual harassment. Even if an ICC is in place, there are multiple roadblocks complainants face in getting their grievance to the ICC, having their case investigated, and finally, action be taken.
The #MeToo era has made it clear that until and unless we apply public pressure, sexual harassment cases are not taken seriously. Our recent milestone with Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad shows us the power of standing with the complainants.
If enough of us sign this petition, we will be able to pressure SRFTI administration to clean up their ICC procedures.
A case of sexual harassment in Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) -- WASH FB page