Sexual Violence Hall of Shame exists because ‘Due-Procedures’ have failed

I don’t disagree that there are problems with the ‘Sexual Violence Hall of Shame’ list, but in relation to complaints through GSCASHs and similar structures, there are problems in ‘due-procedures’ and their own guidelines are often deeply flawed. The very procedures designed to protect complainants have been used against complainants again and again. I wish that this list on facebook opened up a debate of the lack of structural integrity in GSCASHs and ICCs, instead of what is happening right now.

Why don’t students complain to GSCASH? It is not because of rumours about GSCASHs’ failure that students do not complain. It is because we have seen our own friends go through or have personally gone through the failures of GSCASH and ICCs in delivering some semblance of justice. So yes, social media becomes an outlet of our complaints. It is very sad, because there is no expectation of justice by going to social media. It is an outlet of rage or sadness and a myopic one at best and yet we have gone to social media instead. Should the list contain instances of sexual harassment, which I’m sure it does, what will come out of it? None of these people whose names are on that list will be touched in any serious way. If the committees put in place to address these crimes cannot generally do anything about the people who harassed and abused students, if they cannot ensure justice, a facebook list won’t. If anything, we all know that there will be a backlash to this list.

People don’t complain because they know that GSCASHs have not been able to deliver justice, in most cases. In that sense, we should also view this list as something telling of the failure of GSCASH. One of the problems with GSCASH is that it depends on who is in the committee. It also matters how the complainant and the accused are related to members in the committee. Basically goes to show that our ethics and the justice delivered by GSCASHs is as thin as the people we know. My own and several other students’ experience of due-procedures, when we trusted GSCASH, has been disappointing to say the least. So can we please address that? I know that there has been work on this front and that people like Ayesha Kidwai have been pivotal in making GSCASH more functional in JNU. At the same time, this problem is endemic and academia in India (and i suppose everywhere else) is a place where everyone knows everyone else. It makes it hard to take a stand and even call out a perpetrator, forget about complaints. It gets even worse when the perpetrator identifies with ideologies that are feminist or progressive in anyway, which seems to be the case with this list.

I was really happy to read Mary’s response to the list of accused academics.

I can write this email because she is is not dismissing what is happening and I appreciate her for that. I also appreciate what Raya Sarkar is doing, despite the big problems with social media and how this is done, because for some students who have been abused, this is perhaps their only way of coming out with what has happened to them. Students have resorted to social media, because we all know too well what happens when we go to GSCASH and complain against professors. They are often treated like mafia members, who no one dares to touch. It is insane how much fear we have of big people, how much we’re taught to worship people in such positions, but that doesn’t seem to be limited to students alone.


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Maranatha Wahlang Written by:

Member, Hyderabad for Feminism, PhD Student, Centre for Neural and Cognitive Sciences, University of Hyderabad.

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