Safety Of Its Girl Students Is Last Priority As SRM University Responds With Victim Shaming

A man on the cleaning staff at SRM university masturbated in front of a student in a lift as she was going up to her room in the hostel. The authorities have since done everything but support the student.

As I sit down to write this, I wonder if it’s just me or if the number of safe spaces for women have shrunk even further. I’ve had a night of troubled sleep and there’s a lot of pain as I put this together.

Trigger alert: rape and sexual harassment

Sample this: Earlier this week, a man who claimed to have ejaculated on the vagina of a ten year old is acquitted by the police because he convinced them that he was just playing a prank. And now, by the end of the week, a university campus that should be a safe space for women, has turned out to be another hotbed of impunity.

A nightmare at SRM University

A second year student of SRM University, Kattangalathur had gone into the lift to reach her room on the sixth floor of her hostel, at around 3:00 PM yesterday. The maintenance staff, who was inside the lift, began to masturbate at her. She tried to stop the elevator and get out, but the man blocked her path.


When the lift stopped in the fourth floor, she got off and began to scream and looked for help.

Students allege that the perpetrator worked as a maintenance staff in the campus premises, and used the lifts regularly. They say that he has access to the hostels on campus. When the young woman went to the authorities, the first thing she was told by the hostel warden was to change her clothes and go to bed.

Strike 1: Victim shaming. Some students insinuated that the warden had gone forth to suggest that these sorts of things happened to “North Indian” girls.

With the callous response from the warden, the students decided to go to the higher authorities. The Registrar told them to email him, and left the campus. The Director claimed that the man would be “arrested” soon, but ignored the question from his students on whether a police complaint had been filed at all. Instead, he had the gall to tell the students not to “make an issue out of nothing.”

When everything failed, the students decided to protest.

Where does this end?

I find myself challenged by questions that may probably have no answer.

Is a woman’s very existence reduced to nothing more than a target for cis-het male lust? From ten to twenty to eighty, and every age in between and outside, women are vulnerable to harassment and abuse. With authorities not only being irresponsible about the safety of women on campus, but also unabashedly apathetic and disrespectful of a complainant, there seems to be a derisive mockery of the inclusion of women into public spaces.

The callousness, disrespect, and rampancy of sexual violence against women notwithstanding, survivors who share and come up with their story are doubted, disrespected, stigmatised, and have their character attacked. There’s something that doesn’t add up.

There is a generalization that survivor stories are false because one or few story/stories turned out false – but the sheer number of men guilty of violating women doesn’t seem import a similar generalization – instead, #NotAllMen is asserted without shame. One false story by a survivor can lead everyone to dismiss the #MeToo movement and question every survivor. And yet, despite the number of men who abuse, harass, rape, molest, and harm, an astounding majority of them walk free.

Image source: Twitter

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