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‘Want Pleasurable Nights With You’: How A Teacher Harassed A Female Student

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By Yeshu Aggarwal:

The theme that was I asked to write on was a social issue that either I or someone I know has faced, and that it had to be something not very common. After much thinking and discussions, the problem of exploitation of female students by male teachers came to me and without much ado I took up the topic.

For the ease of understanding the case better, I would first introduce the people involved in the whole case. The girl who faced the torture is Priya. Priya is a student doing her M.Sc. in Mechanics from Gurudev College. She had recently joined Gurudev College and is someone who is extremely brilliant and at the same time – beautiful. The Mechanics department had a Math lecturer, Prakash Nath Jha. He has been at Gurudev College for past three years and is highly regarded among his colleagues.

Monsoon had just begun in India and so had the classes for first year students at Gurudev. Since it was first day of the college, Priya was quite nervous and Prakash was slotted in to take Priya’s class at 10 am every Monday. At the first sight of Priya, Prakash approached Priya to enquire about her. A few of the faculty already knew her since she was one of the five students who were selected for 100% scholarship that year. Impressed by Prakash’s easy-to-go approach, Priya gave her contact details to him and so did Prakash. The class and the day went ahead at its normal pace and Priya was soon settling down.

About a week passed by, when one night Priya was in her room busy doing her assignment work due in next day. Suddenly, her phone rang and it was Priya’s lecturer Prakash who was on the line. Priya was surprised that Prakash had called her up so late in the night. Nonetheless, without much hesitation, Priya answered the call. Apparently, Prakash had called her up to enquire whether Priya was attending his lecture the next day and whether she was free later in the day. Priya was surprised by this but again she did not sense anything wrong and happily answered to Prakash’s questions about her schedule. Prakash asked Priya to meet him at his residence and Priya, again without hesitating much, conceded to Prakash’s request.

The next day went on like any other when Priya’s plan suddenly changed and she could not visit him as her parents had come over to meet her. On learning this, Prakash was very annoyed but somehow tried to control his anger. Later that night, he again rang up Priya. After making general small talk, he, out of nowhere, asked her if she liked him. Priya was dumbstruck on being asked that question. After a pause, she answered back saying that it was not possible for her to even think like this – since Prakash was her lecturer and she highly respected him. In reply to this Prakash said, “Who wants respect? I am looking forward to spend some pleasurable nights with you.”

Priya was completely shocked on hearing this but still tried convincing Prakash that his feelings for her were not right and that it could land him in trouble. He, however, was unfazed by this and continued to harass her. He would call her night after night and demand spending nights with her. On not answering his calls, Prakash would then send her dirty SMSes. Priya had faced all this for about a month.

One fine day, Priya had to attend Prakash’s lecture but was reluctant after what all had happened in the past one month. However, not caring about it much and concentrating on her studies and career, Priya decided to go ahead and attend it. During the lecture, he was constantly staring at her and she was somehow trying to avoid him. All of a sudden, he confiscated her phone on the charge that she was using it during his lecture and disturbing others. Priya, by now, was terrified and broke down. Her classmates, unaware of what has had happened with her, tried consoling her. She was so scared that she did not disclose the reason to anyone. Meanwhile Prakash, who was still in possession of her phone, had started transferring all her pictures from her phone.

Prakash, indeed, had been charged twice for rape cases. And he was someone who had good support from political parties and this he used to his advantage. On the other hand, Priya was increasingly feeling helpless about all this when police knocked on her door. Her friend and fellow classmate Meera had called the police. She came to know about all this when she accidently heard Priya talking to herself about what was happening to her, and in no time she took action and reported the case to the counseling team of the college. The college soon intervened and registered an F.I.R. with the police against Prakash, charging him of ‘mental harassment’ and ‘sexual harassment’.

He stands suspended from his duty currently which makes me wonder what prevents the college from expelling him. Is it because of the political reach that Prakash has, or is it because of something else? Nonetheless, Priya is feeling a lot relieved for the time being. However, it presents a very grim picture concerning the security of girls in India. When we can adopt the ‘western culture’, why cannot we adopt the good aspects relating to respect and equality for women and the governance that countries like the U.S and the U.K have in place for their citizens.

This case study leaves all of us with a question that has been unanswered for many years, ‘How safe are women in India?’

Please Note: The actual name of the lecturer, the student, the college has been changed due to privacy and security issues.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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