Chennai: A reputed group that runs the Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (PSBB) schools in Chennai has suspended a senior faculty member, after allegations of his misconduct were posted on social media by students of the school. The allegations by current and former students came to light via Instagram on Sunday night, following which it spread to other social media platforms. Students had shared chat screenshots of alleged misconduct and described the way the faculty had dealt with girls during conventional and even offline classes.
The issue gained wider attention after Members of Parliament those who are from the first family of the state’s ruling DMK demanded and inquiry, strict action regarding the same.
Some of the allegations made by the students are – the male faculty member came clad in a towel (on his torso) to handle online classes, of him having asked students to accompany him for a movie, him having touched students inappropriately. Body shaming students among others. These posts also stated that the school failed to take action despite it being brought to their notice.
In a statement, the school said that it had zero tolerance towards any behaviour that adversely affected the physical, emotional and psychological well being of the students. However, it also added that this issue was not brought to the notice of the school management earlier.
While this case of alleged harassment has taken social media by storm, many users were quick to point out that similar action must be initiated by the DMK government against other alleged perpetrators of sexual harassment. Singer Chinmayi Sripaada replied to the tweet of DMK MP Kanimozhi and requested her to take action against lyricist and DMK sympathizer Vairamuthu, besides former DMK/AIADMK politician Radha Ravi, who is now with the BJP.
Social media users also pointed out that there is another long-pending major sexual harassment row involving Chennai’s Loyola College. In this nearly seven-year-old case, that allegedly involves a senior clergyman from Loyola College, who sexually harassed a staff member, the State Women’s Commission had ordered compensation of over Rs.64lakhs for the victim, which the college has not yet paid.
In a suo motu decision in December 2020, the Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women had ordered Chennai’s Loyola College to immediately pay a compensation (with interest and without delay) of Rs 64.30 lakhs to former staff. The compensation covers remuneration for 81 months, damages for mental agony, unkind words of sexual harassment and for filing a false complaint against the victim.
The Commission has also found that the victim has had a very good track record and that there was no reason for terminating her service and noted that the Loyola College has abruptly stopped her from work, deliberately.