I am writing this article after having received a threat message from a friend and well-wisher of one of the perpetrators in the recent Bois Locker Room debacle. Even though I am putting myself at a lot of risk by writing, this story ought to be told. Have you ever heard a Calcuttan say, “Omg! Everyone knows everyone in our city!” It’s true. This city is not like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore or other metropolitan cities; everyone indeed knows everyone here. Multiple social circles on the bases of various hobbies, performative arts, and community culture are what lead to the formation of a close-knit community.
On 4th May, I wrote an article on #BoysLockerRoom on Youth Ki Awaaz. On May 5, I woke up to another scandal, the existence of a Google Drive link that was created back in 2016 by MUN male attendees from various schools and colleges of Kolkata. The names that were backed with testimonials belonged to Jadavpur University predominantly, but also included several anonymous sources who refused to make their testimony go public out of fear.
The MUN circuit, which I used to be a part of until 2016, consists of privileged students belonging to premiere institutions who engage in debates and party hard during every MUN Social Night. Do all of them show up for protest rallies? Not really. Does that mean they do not care about issues of national interest? No.
Some prominent members of Jadavpur MUN committees have been doing wonderful on-ground work through this pandemic, but the MUN circuit doesn’t end with them. It probably begins after the good names are listed down.
Every year, the Youth Theatre circuit of Kolkata witnesses people named and shamed thoroughly across platforms. Young and talented college students, who are introduced to these spaces in lieu of art, performance opportunities and honing their skills, often end up not going back to their true calling.
It doesn’t just stop there. Once a survivor finds the courage to come out from their horrific and personal tales of unimaginable trauma, at least one of the following things happen to them:
Why do these stories die down?
Lack of evidence and fear of filing an FIR remain the primary reasons for obstruction. When I outed the man who molested me in 2016, everyone’s biggest claim was, “No one was there, so we don’t know if she (me) is speaking the truth,” “They’re best of friends. It’s impossible” or “She’s such a big-time feminist. If this had actually happened, there would have been an FIR by now.”
The threats I received the day after I wrote my previous article felt like a dark déjà vu to the times when my whole family used to receive constant threats, and asked me to stay quiet. This toxicity kills hopes, dreams and scars individuals permanently. No amount of therapy is able to take away the pain or trauma undergone by these countless, nameless survivors who go about their day, turn around their lives, build new dreams, and often move out of this city/country in good hope of never returning to this hell-hole.
It’s a racket that needs professional attention and help from the state. Of course, I wouldn’t know how, but that’s why we have designated officials in power who are supposed to draft policies and legislation to make our lives safer, healthier and better.