My friend is living through something awful

  • Jan. 18th, 2012 at 4:23 AM
la_vie_noire: (Clare-killing)
Completely belated "South Asians for Justice" (SAJ) statement + my response.

The letter that SAJ send her is there. I'm just going to quote her words:

They coddled and protected a man who is ten years older than me, phd-track and from a highly class privileged background. The perpetrator is also jeering, spiteful and self-justifying about what he did to me, and tries to elicit pity and caretaking from women when talking about his current sexual violence ideations. All of this is transcripted through chats and emails. But unfortunately, Amita and co. were more concerned about preserving his access to organizational spaces.

I find the handwringing piece about state intervention ridiculous, since there has even never been any remote possibility of Saurav going to prison. The part that says that they don't want to be "punitive" ludicrously equates making safer spaces with the U.S. prison system. They demanded that he leave spaces ONLY if I am there. This is a man who has put in writing that he is a sexual predator. Apparently there are no minimum standards for participating in anti-oppression oriented spaces. Saurav perpetrated sexual violence against me after I experienced police violence. But I doubt anyone in these spaces would ask me to cry about the wounded psyches of the cops who harmed me.

They also left out that the "male ally" they used in this process told me my criticisms weren't worth engaging with and ditched the process. He was more dedicated to his friendship with the perpetrator than the process. Two months later, we finally are having a side accountability process to hold him accountable as well. Ridiculous. The accountability process group was itself not accountable.

It became evident through Saurav's own written admissions about his sexual violence and homicidal ideations via creepy emails to me, as well as information through others he harmed, that he has had an ongoing pattern of emotional and physical abusiveness and misogyny, despite his savvy utilization of feminist/social justice language and paid work on gender issues. He had also utilized his academic credentials and age to put me in my place; these were hierarchies that were being reinforced elsewhere in my life during my college years. He had also presented himself as a major source of support over the years, but opportunistically utilized multiple status differences and my vulnerabilities when I came to him for support last year during a time of crisis (which included trauma from recent gender-based stranger violence on the street). He repeatedly dodged responsibility over the course of the last year or so.


Due to the age gap, his peers/"friends" included my supervisors and professors, some of whom cofounded SAJ. I had outed him as an abuser to them by selecting "reply all" to a mass email he sent to to them and to me last year. Almost no one (including Aley, Svati, Linta) responded. One person, Thanu, outright dismissed my story as "gossip". Amita indeed sent out an email to those people early this year, trying to use her leverage as their peer, and only 3 of them responded. I don't think they're all particularly close to him, but I did feel uncomfortable sitting at the SAJ potluck with someone who I know used to hang out with the perpetrator (Linta), but basically silenced me before hand via email and told me to stop talking about it. I felt jarred when I first read the list of ten or so names behind the cofounding of SAJ and behind the mission statement, because of the incongruence between the language of the statement and the actual actions of those individuals. Many of those individuals are gender studies professors, anti-violence activists, etc.The SAJ mission statement includes language around gender justice and recognizing internal hierarchies around power/privilege, as well as the importance of recognizing the ways people are harmed by both interpersonal and state violence.

I find disgusting the ways the 30-something crowd who are peers of Saurav, well-established, paid to do anti-violence work, or teach race/gender/class issues as academics have responded. They do not speak for me.

So. This is a community that supposedly had to protect her. But privileged her abuser.

About London Riots

  • Aug. 9th, 2011 at 1:17 AM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Such a brilliant post. Panic on the streets of London.

Violence is rarely mindless. The politics of a burning building, a smashed-in shop or a young man shot by police may be obscured even to those who lit the rags or fired the gun, but the politics are there. Unquestionably there is far, far more to these riots than the death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting sparked off the unrest on Saturday, when two police cars were set alight after a five-hour vigil at Tottenham police station. A peaceful protest over the death of a man at police hands, in a community where locals have been given every reason to mistrust the forces of law and order, is one sort of political statement. Raiding shops for technology and trainers that cost ten times as much as the benefits you’re no longer entitled to is another. A co-ordinated, viral wave of civil unrest across the poorest boroughs of Britain, with young people coming from across the capital and the country to battle the police, is another.

Months of conjecture will follow these riots. Already, the internet is teeming with racist vitriol and wild speculation. The truth is that very few people know why this is happening. They don’t know, because they were not watching these communities. Nobody has been watching Tottenham since the television cameras drifted away after the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985. Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news. In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

"Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere ’’


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