50% increase in sexual harassment cases on campuses in 2017: UGC data
Universities and colleges across the country reported a 50% increase in sexual harassment cases in 2017 compared to previous year, the Lok Sabha was informed on Monday.
Quoting data from the University Grants Commission (UGC), Union minister of state for human resource development Satya Pal Singh, in a written reply, said 149 cases of sexual harassment were reported from universities and 39 cases from colleges and other institutions in 2017. In 2016, 94 such cases were reported from universities and 18 from colleges and institutions.
The data was shared on a day when hundreds of JNU students marched to the Vasant Kunj police station in south Delhi, demanding arrest and suspension of a professor accused of sexual harassment by a student.
In addition to this, 901 cases of ragging were registered in 2017 compared to 515 in 2016, the minister said.
Quoting UGC, the minister said the panel had set up a task force under the chairmanship of professor Meenakshi Gopinath, ex-member of UGC, on 8 January, 2013 to review the existing arrangements for the safety and security of girls and women on campuses of higher educational institutions.
The task force’s report was adopted by the commission. UGC had notified specific rules to tackle sexual harassment of students and staff that required institutions to take action on complaints of all sexes. The regulation has notified a provision for third-party complaints that allows a victim’s friends, colleagues or any other person to file a complaint on their behalf.
The commission has also asked institutions whether workshops or awareness programmes against sexual harassment were conducted during the year.
The UGC had also notified University Grants Commission (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015.
“The complaint needs to be filed within three months of the offence and the university or college would have to face action, including fund cuts if they failed to follow regulations,” a senior UGC official said, explaining the stringent rules against the offence.
“The UGC guidelines said that the internal committee of the college or university is liable to complete its probe within 90 days and the authorities have to take action within 30 days. If found guilty, the university or college can rusticate a student while an employee or teacher has to face action according to the service rule,” the official said.