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.