Shaken by the attack on a third-year undergraduate student Roshini by her classmate Aakash, Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Gender Sensitisation committee has planned to start special counselling for students who have been through difficult breakups.
The Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) is planning to put in place a system where anyone who is undergoing a tough breakup or is being harassed by their former partner can go to them without getting a formal complaint lodged.
“The person who needs help will not have to lodge any formal complaint. There won’t be an enquiry or punitive action. GDCASH will just try to help the students who are going through a tough time. We have to reach out,” said Ayesha Kidwai, the teachers’ representative to GSCASH.
According to Kidwai, the new plan should be in action from the coming week and was announced at a public meeting held on Friday night to discuss gender issues in JNU. A number of students, however, do not feel that the idea is going to draw too many people.
“It is unlikely that students will want to discuss their relationships with GSCASH members. The university already has counsellors for those who are in serious need of help. Also, GSCASH is associated with enquiries and long drawn processes. It will take some time for them to shed that image,” said Kavita, an MPhil student at JNU.
JNU has been looking for effective ways to address issues around gender sensitivity and violence since the incident on Wednesday. The most common view suggests that all students, especially those who join at the undergraduate level, should undergo mandatory counselling for gender sensitization.
The public meeting on Friday night saw attendance from close to 300 students. Popular teachers such as Anand Kumar, Jayati Ghosh, Kamal Mitra Chenoy and Ayesha Kidwai spoke about the changes needed in the attitudes of students and teachers to avoid a similar incident in future. According to most teachers present, the changing relationships between students and teachers has led to a situation where an incident like this happens without anyone knowing that a problem existed.