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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Lurking menace for women on the campus and beyond

Monica Sharma, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, June 24, 2014
First Published: 09:15 IST(24/6/2014) | Last Updated: 09:36 IST(24/6/2014)

For young girls and women who will soon go through the emotional highs and lows of their first day on campus, things can be a little more complicated than their male peers. They have to be aware that they vulnerable to sexual harassment not necessarily on campus, but on commutes and around the campus. This year, even though official figures, show that the number of cases of sexual harassment and molestation in the first five months have dipped from to 54 from 114 in the corresponding period last year, the mood of fear persists.

“The numbers might not indicate the reality. We are vulnerable and face stalking by boys every other day,” says Avantika, a student of Government College, Sector 11. So, while students do admit that groups of boys in swanky cars taking rounds of colleges have reduced, the centre of harassment has also then shifted to markets, public transport and even near their houses.

Even as no major incident of stalking or harassment has come to light, the verbal abuse continues. “We simply have to ignore it,” a number of girl students told HT.

MEASURES TAKEN HAVE HELPED

It is clear that steps taken by the police and the security establishment have minimised passing of comments and stalking. The allwoman police control room (PCR) vehicles remain parked near the colleges throughout the day, serve as a deterrent for the miscreants.

Following a spurt in cases in 2012, the police had stepped its vigil around education institutes. In 2012, a student of Government College, Sector-42, was assaulted, teased and efforts were made to pull her in a car by three youngsters, while she was standing outside her institute. This one incident jolted the administration and security was provided around colleges.

‘BOYS NEED TO LEARN SOME LESSONS’

Rohini Khatri, waiting for a local bus outside the Government College, Sector-42, says: “Stalking has decreased due to police presence outside the institute, but traveling by local bus is a task in itself. Men do not get up even from the seats reserved for women. Some take advantage of the rush to grope us.”

Vibha, a SD college, Sector 32, student, says “We have a co-education college and the boys really need to learn some lessons on how to behave with girls. Lewd remarks are the order of the day. Even the presence of a sexual harassment committee at the college fails to deter these boys.”

SPECIAL CELL

Incidentally, sexual harassment committees have been formed at almost all the colleges, including the varsity, but there is a need to generate more awareness about these Shivani Sharma, an MA student at PU, says: “Varsity authorities need to generate awareness about sexual harassment committees. Sometimes, a girl student faces harassment even from male teachers. This can lead to confusion.”

STEPS FOR EMPOWERMENT

The Chandigarh police have also started holding self-defence training courses for women and girls. The course has been held in two batches and was organised at the college for girl students.

Over the last three years, the police have laid a lot of stress on creating awareness among women to come forward and complain against sexual harassment and stalking. Officials were also sensitised about prioritizing complaints involving harassment to girls and women.

PU HAS CELL, STUDENTS UNAWARE

Panjab University formed a committee against sexual harassment in June 2013, yet most students seem to be unaware of its existence.

No boards have been put up to display the name of the committee members.

The university is also supposed to write to the institutes affiliated with it asking them to constitute committees.

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