On Friday (March 31), Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister MK Stalin pledged to take action on any report of sexual harassment at the Kalakshetra Foundation, a prestigious arts and cultural academy in Chennai.
The assurance followed a protest by roughly 200 students a day earlier, who alleged harassment by four male faculty members. Stalin stated that legal action would be taken against any found guilty, but noted that there has been no written complaint to the police yet.
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Around 200 students held a protest at the Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai a day after National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma visited the campus.
During her visit, she met with director Revathi Ramachandran and some of the faculty members and asked students to publicly disclose incidents of sexual harassment.
The students criticised her approach, saying it aimed to cover up the issue. They also detailed the types of harassment they faced, such as sexual messaging, abuse, and being denied opportunities.
Sharma had asked the state police chief not to pursue the matter because the main complainant denied the allegations during an internal complaints committee investigation.
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However, the NCW later claimed that the allegations of sexual misconduct by the faculty members were “disinformation.”
Ramachandran said those facing the allegations have been questioned and the board will consider taking action as per the law.
The Kalakshetra Foundation, founded in 1936, is a renowned institution that offers courses in traditional arts. The sexual harassment scandal has caused concern among its alumni, who have expressed solidarity with the students and dismay at the institution’s response. Some prominent artists, including TM Krishna, have called for a thorough investigation.
Krishna emphasized the importance of a caring and compassionate environment for effective inquiry into cases of sexual abuse. He also pointed out that in hierarchical environments, such as the one at Kalakshetra, it can be difficult for young students and alumni to speak up fearlessly.