NEWS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN INDIA’S REPUTED DANCE ACADEMY
The Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts one of India’s top art and cultural institution is now stained with sexual harassment allegations against a faculty member and 3 substitute teachers. The students started a protest and also accused the faculty of not just sexual harassment but also caste discrimination and verbal abuse.
Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts is run by the Kalakshetra Foundation; the Kalakshetra Foundation was established by dancer Rukmini Devi Arundale who aimed to impart to the young the true spirit of art, without vulgarism and commercialism.
But what is happening now is exactly opposite to what her vision was. The students took a long step for the protest which shows how serious the problem is; Assistant Professor cum dancer Hari Padman who was accused of sexual harassment against a former student of the institution was arrested, but that didn’t settle the protest nor the rage of the students.
More than 200 students from the institute in Tamil Nadu’s Chennai city, are involved in the protest, they mentioned that the problem of sexual assault is not recent and that it has been in the institute for ages; the institute’s administration was blamed for ignoring student’s complaints about sexual harassment in the campus.
While these allegations caused so much distress among the public and society, the institute’s ICC member, advocate BS Ajeetha resigned from his place. ICC – Internal Complaints Committee is a board in the institute; the board was established to look into the student’s complaints and BS Ajeetha was the only third-party member in the committee, the rest three are from the institute itself.
BS Ajeetha when speaking with the media mentioned that cases of sexual harassment have been there in the institute for many years and that they have done their best in the prevention of any such activities.
When asked about what their action against the accused was, BS Ajeetha mentioned that the committee punished and suspended the perpetrators. It was mentioned that a detailed awareness program about sexual harassment was conducted and that students were given the strength and freedom to approach the committee or its members if any problem was faced by them.
The recent accusations blamed the administration for not taking up the complaints; when this question was asked to the former member of ICC Kalakshetra, it was mentioned that a former student who approached them with a complaint of humiliation by a teacher was not addressed by the IC because the student did not mention any sexual harassment.
A few male students in the institute also approached the IC with concerns about male faculty sexually harassing them, but the IC did not take up the complaint stating that it was a gender-specific act and they had no authority to take it up.
Every passionate dancer’s dream is to join the Kalakshetra, even the students agreed to it and said that they were on the ninth cloud when they were taken into the institute; but the sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and discrimination are mentioned by them when they stated about doubting their self-worth.
One of India’s prestigious art institutes, which is supposed to give its students a great career and full-fledged life, is now the blame for its student’s trauma. Let us hope that justice will be served to the victims and that the accused will be punished for their wrongdoings. Comment your thoughts on the issue.