Jayshree Mehta (name changed), a student of a south Mumbai college, was frequently harassed by a classmate who would send inappropriate texts and would call her in the middle of the night.
Mehta, who stays away from her family in a hostel, did not want to approach college authorities or even the special women’s cell with her problem. “I thought they wouldn’t take my concern seriously, since most of the members of the cell are not really active,” said Mehta. “I finally threatened the boy with a police complaint two months ago, after which he stopped calling,” she said.
College girls in the city are constantly subjected to harassment, often from male peers and even from men outside the campus. Most of them are reluctant to approach authorities.
“Often, young men stand outside college gates, usually at some cigarette shops in the area, and constantly leer at girls and pass comments,” said Christina Thomas (name changed), 19, student of another southern college. “I have stopped wearing shorts since the men stare a lot. I didn’t approach the security as it happens outside the college premises, and I am sure they wouldn’t bother with it,” she said.
Mihika Shetty, 21, a media student from National College, Bandra, started Keh ke Lungi, an awareness campaign, as a college project two months ago with a few of her classmates. “We decided to start the campaign on sexual harassment after a friend from the group was molested by a man at a traffic signal,” Shetty. The group regularly posts news articles and important information on women's safety on its Facebook page to create awareness. It also conducts frequent workshops at malls and colleges across the city.
However, for some girls, colleges are a safe space compared to other places in the city. "There is no fear or insecurity while we are in college. The authorities have ensured that even the security guards and peons behave properly with female students," said Yasashree Vaidya, a student of HR college, Churchgate.