UGC tells universities to make campuses safer, gender sensitive
Stunned by the gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi and recent sexual harassment cases at varsities, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked all universities to review the security arrangement for women students and employees.
India's apex higher education regulator has also asked varsities to introduce gender sensitisation modules in their curriculum, and involve faculty and students in regular discussions on women's concerns.
"Periodic discourse on such concerns amongst faculty and students, in which girls and women could be an integral part, can probably lay the foundation for the creation of healthy mindsets," UGC acting chairman Ved Prakash wrote, in his letter to all higher educational institutions.The move comes amid a public debate on gender sensitisation and poor security for women following the horrific rape and brutalisation of the young physiotherapist on a moving bus in Delhi that triggered nationwide protests.
But higher educational institutions have in recent years also faced public scrutiny over increasing instances of sexual harassment on campuses.
An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay panel found a professor of environmental engineering guilty of sexually harassing a female student in late 2010. Cases of sexual harassment at Delhi University are routine.
Recently, Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore suspended its chief administrative officer after a medical officer at the institute accused him of sexually harassing her.
"There is a need to ensure a safe working environment for women employees in the offices for their academic and professional responsibilities," Prakash has written, suggesting a dedicated task force comprising senior administrators, to monitor needs of women employees.