Trigger Warning: The following content details varying forms of abuse.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a new wave of openness on the internet surrounding the discussion of sexual abuse. Survivors of all ages have come forward in collective solidarity to reveal the deeply traumatic experiences that have haunted them for years without end in sight. Ever since the “Me Too” movement first gained popularity in 2017, victims of sexual and domestic abuse have felt compelled to share their stories online, but the movement seemed to plateau not long after. The topic of abuse has finally gained mainstream traction again thanks to social media platforms such as instagram and twitter, and this time people are not allowing it to be a short-lived trend. There has been an especially overwhelming number of young people across the country vocalizing the abuse they have endured from their fellow peers in school, leading to a massive outcry for justice directed towards college institutions and universities being requested to expel alleged abusers to prevent them from roaming campuses once again. Queens College is no exception to this call to action, as a student currently enrolled at QC stands facing multiple allegations of sexual assault against him.
Mahfuzur Rahman, a rising Sophomore majoring in Physics and Mathematics, has been accused of drugging girls, sexually assaulting them, threatening his victims to remain silent, and taking advantage of their vulnerability with forms of emotional and mental abuse. There is currently a change.org petition with over 20,000 signatures asking the QC administration to charge Rahman with a Title IX violation. In the petition’s description, the creator expresses Rahman has “a history of blackmail and manipulation that has caused several students that have attended Queens High School of the Sciences to experience mental and physical trauma from their experiences”. The creator believes that “as a school that prides itself for keeping its students feel safe and protected with counselors and campus security, an initiative should be taken to remove such an individual from this school”.
The petition was initiated in response to a multitude of young girls beginning to open up about their frightening interactions with Rahman, and how they were too fearful to ever come forward about his predatory behavior before. Many of the statements are now private and inaccessible, but one particular individual released a lengthy public statement detailing her on and off again relationship with Rahman, sharing the physical and psychological abuse that she suffered from.
Their relationship began when she was 15 and consistently involved sexual coercion. She recalls, “he would ask me to do things when he knew I was uncomfortable, and when I said ‘no’ or ‘not right now’, he would keep insisting until I complied”. In one instance she remembers “crying in the middle of him doing things” but he “insisted to keep on going”. She claims that it was immensely difficult to ever leave him due to the fact that anytime she ever upset him he would spread rumors about her, threaten to come to her house, expose their forbidden relationship to her parents, and constantly blackmail her with various lies. One lie included pretending to spread nude photos of the young woman when he did not possess any compromising pictures to begin with.
After gaining the courage to leave him, Rahman still harassed the young woman he was once in a relationship with. In August of 2019, he persuaded her to hang out with him in Jackson Heights with a couple of friends, and although she felt uncomfortable with the idea, Rahman claimed to have a new girlfriend that would also be attending. Not only was this false, but during the gathering, he “would use any excuse” to touch her inappropriately. She recounts, “he did it twice and even admitted that he did it because he wanted to. I was slightly intoxicated at the time and he tried to drag and carry me away from all his friends. I kept screaming ‘I don’t want to’ but he insisted. That was when he continuously tried to kiss me and I kept saying ‘no I don’t want to’’.
This young woman’s experience is not an anomaly, nor is it the extent to which the harm he committed varies.
Rahman has not yet made a public statement in response to the allegations.
Below is the petition with information regarding which QC administration to contact if you would like to directly voice your opinion about Rahman:
If you or anyone you know suffer from abuse, below is a list of hotlines for access to professional help:
Cartoon by Liza Donnelly