Ms. Debamitra Mitra
Director, Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute
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