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Safety systems are in place, but more needs to be done

education Updated: Dec 10, 2014 12:04 IST
Gauri Kohli
University Grants Commission

In order to strengthen women’s safety measures on campuses, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had also asked universities and institutes across the country to implement the recommendations of a task force which had suggested improvement of infrastructure and formulation of guidelines to deal with sexual harassment cases.

Jamia Millia Islamia has a sexual harassment committee called Sensitisation Prevention and Redressal of Sexual Harassment (SPARSH) which includes the apex body of SPARSH and the university complaints committee. “The committee is aimed at dealing with cases of sexual harassment on campus and raise awareness about gender-based discrimination, and other acts of sexual violence. It has four members and was set up in accordance with the The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013,” says Professor Mehtab Manzar, chairperson of the committee at JMI.

Sensitising the students about gender issues and how they can help curb cases of sexual harassment are some of this panel’s main initiatives, besides dealing with complaints and cases. Both parties are called separately and a joint meeting takes place, too. The cases are then referred to the vice chancellor and the university provides full support to the affected student, including counselling. Complaints are registered with strict confidentiality and students are encouraged to come up and raise their voices. Only four cases of sexual harassment have been registered with the committee in the last three years.

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) policy against sexual harassment was announced in 1999, and the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) was set up vide a Jawaharlal Nehru University notification in the same year. Reports of sexual harassment are taken seriously and dealt with care and confidentiality. GSCASH organises orientation camps, workshops, to spread awareness on the subject. About 200 complaints have been registered with GSCASH since its inception.

At the University of Delhi (DU), each college is supposed to have its own sexual harassment committee besides the university having an Internal Complaints Committee. The ICC comprises six members of which one member is from outside the university and two are male members. The committee functions as per the rules specified in the Sexual Harassment Act. At the college level, every report pertaining to a sexual harassment case has to be submitted to the governing body while the ICC has to submit reports related to cases with the university registrar. As per a notification released by the university in June 2014, all deans, directors and heads of departments must take necessary measures to gender sensitise and create a safe environment for all staff and students. They are also required to submit a report every year by March 31 on relevant steps taken.

Are you a victim? 5 ways to deal with sexual harassment

Stand up and speak
If possible, try and tell the person to stop. Be firm while telling the person that you do not like a certain behaviour which should end. There are times when the person harassing you is unaware that it is offensive

Gather information and support
If you feel you cannot speak up, confide in one of your friends, family or college/university resources for help

Collect proof
Gather any record, letters, e-mail, messages you have if the situation continues for long. While it is difficult to do so try to take note of witnesses, nature of harassment, where it happened, date, time and what was said

Spread awareness
While many institutions conduct seminars, workshops etc to raise awareness on the issue, as a student, you can always spread the word

Report the matter
Reporting the matter would not only help you in finding a solution, it will also give you the courage to stand up and speak for yourself