In an incident that has been going viral on social media and left many outraged, a teacher working at St Xavier's University in Kolkata was fired, allegedly after students watched her bikini-clad photos on social media.
As per reports, the teacher was forced to quit by the college authorities for putting up "objectionable" posts on her Instagram feed which the college authorities claimed was "besmirching" the reputation of the institution, The Wire reported.
What happened in St Xavier's?
As per reports, photographs of a teacher with international degrees and a PhD, went viral among students. The teacher had been recruited as an Assistant Professor at St Xavier's in August last year.
In October, she got a call from college authorities inviting her for a meeting with the College VC Felix Raj. It was here that she found out about the allegations against her. the college authorities told her that they were taking action against the teacher based on complaints from a student's family.
According to reports, the VC allegedly told the teacher that they had received written complaints against her from the guardian of a first year student who had been discovered looking at her "objectionable" and "inappropriate" photographs on Instagram. The teacher was told that her photographs allegedly "bordered on nudity". In the images concerned, the teacher could be seen in swimwear and gym wear.
The letter, which has been quoted by The Wire in its report, noted that "it is obscene, vulgar and improper for an 18-year-old student to see his professor dressed in scanty clothes exhibiting her body on a public platform.”
Teacher lodges complaint
Following the incident, the teacher has filed a complaint with the police citing sexual harassment and possible hacking. According to the teacher, the manner in which action was taken against her was traumatic and amounted to sexual harassment. Speaking to The Wire, the woman said that she had posted photographs of herself in a blu swimsuit in June in one of her stories, months before she joined SXC. Herself an SXC alumna, the woman claimed that since stories are saved for only 24 hours, there was a possibility that her account was hacked. She told the police that since she herself was the only one who could access her old stories, she had no idea how the boy or the college authorities even got hold of the photos. In addition, the woman's profile is 'locked', meaning it can only be accessed by her chosen followers. She added that obtaining and circulating private images of her in a meeting where she did not even know half the attendees amounted to sexual harassment and humiliation.
"I felt so distressed and humiliated at that moment that I couldn’t bear to examine the rest of the pictures. I was in a meeting where my private pictures were being circulated among people unknown to me, without my consent,” she told The Wire.
The woman claimed that the proceedings held against her amounted to slut shaming. She was read out the angry letter sent by the parent and asked to explain herself. The authorities present, which included the university registrar Ashis Mitra and head of the SXC's gender cell Medha Bhadra Chowdhury, dismissed her when she expressed her doubts about hacking since the photos were originally posted on Instagram stories in June and could not have been viewed by the student in October. As per reports, the VC Felix Raj asked the teacher if her parents approved of such images and threatened her with jail if the parent chose to file an FIR.
The teacher, who was 30 at the time, has since filed a legal complaint against St Xaviers and the autonomous university is currently engaged in responding to the complaints. However, the institution has refrained from commenting on media and have even denied the allegations.
Outrage against moral policing
Many social media users, women's rights activists, academics and women teaching in colleges and universities across disciplines took to the internet to lodge their concerns and outrage against SXC's handling of the incident, which many claimed amounted to sexit moral policing and slut shaming.
A student of St. Xavier’s Kolkata was recently caught looking at a pic of a Prof in her swimsuit (taken from her private IG). His father sent a letter to the uni condemning HER for his son’s leching.— Sukhnidh ⚆ _ ⚆ (@skhndh) August 8, 2022
Prof was forced to resign in a strikingly humiliating manner.
2022… damn. pic.twitter.com/2RNLnXBd0p
The St Xaviers incident shows that Kolkata is filled with patriarchal uncles. Just because it is less sectarian/casteist doesn't mean it's a liberal haven.— Ethanstine (@The_RealBan) August 9, 2022
The misogynist insanity has gone to absurd levels. This is complete insanity and shame on St.Xaviers for conceding to the demands of a pervert and his twisted father … what hypocritical and malformed society would do this? Twisted beyond reason … https://t.co/aAVJnjxnmm— Rocky Singh (@Rockymeranaam69) August 9, 2022