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‘My Kindness And Personality Didn’t Matter. My Breasts Did’: Guest Lecturer, IIT Roorkee

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Submitted Anonymously:

Editor’s Note: YKA has seen the e-mail complaint made by the author to the Director, IIT Roorkee, on May 14, 2016. When asked about the details of the action taken in the matter, Officiating Director P K Ghosh told YKA on the phone that “things are going on” but “no information is now available”. An e-mail sent to the Presiding Officer, Internal Complaints Committee, Prof. Ritu Barthwal, and the Director, IIT Roorkee (Dy. Director P K Ghosh is officiating as the Director right now)- asking for details of IIT Roorkee’s sexual harassment at workplace policy, redress-mechanism for sexual harassment survivors,  the specific complaint and those accused in it- did not elicit any response.

I want to call your attention to an incident at IIT Roorkee last year when I was a guest lecturer. Three professors arrived late to my talk, one continued to talk on his cellphone, three whispered together and one stared at my chest as I was trying to talk to the class of graduate students and faculty. The professors eventually interrupted my lecture with aggressive and antagonistic questions. They demeaned me, my research, my qualifications and my prior publications. By staring at me in a lewd manner, I was reduced to the sum of my body parts. My brain, my talent, my gifts, my kindness and personality didn’t matter. My breasts did. It was incredibly humiliating. I didn’t want to talk about it for a long time. When things like this happen, women feel ashamed as if they had done something wrong in being targeted in that matter. And that is why the men who do these things are able to keep doing them.

About 10 months after the incident, I filed a complaint with the National Commission for Women (NCW). Nothing happened. I filed a complaint with IIT. A board looked into it, talked to other witnesses and agreed with all my points. Still nothing happened.

My concern is this: What message does this give young women about their worth when a visiting faculty member can be treated like this? What message does it give men about how women are to be treated?

IIT is a good university. Its students are bright and ambitious. They need good role models and they need a safe environment that will be free from sexual harassment.

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

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  1. Boni Aditya

    IIT – stands for “Indian” Institute of Technology, which means that there will be a lot of Indians. India is number 3 in the list of worst places for women, preceded only by and african country and pakistan, which is more or less India. Indian Culture is misogynist. Since you are a visiting faculty I will give you a suggestion, go far away from this place and never come back. Be happy that you have a choice. Since you are educated – next time please do your research before you go to a place an decide if that place is worth your physical presence. India is also among the list of extremely corrupted nations so forget about any kind of justice here. To get justice – you should be able to buy it in India.

    1. Amrita Khurana

      Mr.B. Aditya if u live in an area where women are not respected or if u have never lived in india then i suggest you to come here dressed as a female.
      the time u are talking about is long gone
      get updated.

  2. Amrendra Singh

    How can the lady, come up with what the professors meant, A request to YKA when you present some story also try to present the other side of the story , if someone stare at my pant i can’t come up with a complaint against a women for just starring and please don’t take me wrong, We must stop over assuming things.

    1. Amrita Khurana

      i completely agree with you

  3. Amrita Khurana

    How any one can claim where the gazes of the three people are fixed in a large gathering ?
    moreover i think that if a person is attending a phone call in between of something then its understood that the call must be important.
    all the allegations seem to be just a result of negative thinking and a mind set that in india women are not respected and are seen from that stereotypical bad vision.
    again it seems that the lady was not competent enough or not able to answer any questions raised from the crowd.
    QUESTIONS ARE QUESTIONS NEITHER ‘AGGRESSIVE’ NOR ‘ANTAGONISTIC’.i think that verbally through questions no one can give a clue of insult in a large gathering .everybody got minds.
    if the lady was a guest lecturer then it is understood that the professors sitting there can be considered critics or must be asking questions to gather knowledge.
    not in an offensive way but i think that these mis-conceptions of the lady are baseless.
    even i am a feminist but for this case i think it is just a stunt to either gain popularity or set an image of the indians to be mannerless . a lecturer must concentrate on delivering her content and spreading knowledge and not judge people.
    i would also request the management of YKA to please check on the stories being posted so that people dont get a bad idea about a reputed institution and its teachers.
    being an indian
    in my sight it is insulting.

    1. ManuIIT

      Yes Amrita khurana,
      I agree with you and further request YKA authorities not to encourage the false reports.

  4. ManuIIT

    It is a mala fide instigation/abuse by so called the ‘guest lecturer’. I am a member of IIT Roorkee and also, one of the spectators invited to the talk delivered by this (emailed-author) madam. She is not an anonymous person. Why is she hiding her identity? Come with your name opened and hence for the open talk and discussion here, if you wish to have with.
    Further, It is quite clear that IIT-R does not have such a posts, like ‘guest lecturer’ (lecturer?) or ‘visiting faculty member’ (visiting?).
    This post has a ruthless intention to deceive the women, premier institution like IIT, and herself too. It is shocking that how a person can make such baseless allegations, when nothing had happened, right there!
    This is a dreadful fib and a trumped-up story.

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