UP universities report most cases of sexual harassment in India: UGC data
One in every four alleged cases of sexual harassment in India’s universities come from colleges in Uttar Pradesh, according to official data, underscoring a problem that emerged in focus this week after a woman’s alleged molestation led to violence in Banaras Hindu University.
A student said she was attacked outside her hostel in Varanasi’s BHU and her attempts to lodge a complaint were rebuffed, prompting several women students to begin a sit-in. Late on Saturday, police cane-charged the protesters as their numbers swell and an inquiry by the Varanasi administration blamed BHU officials for letting the agitation go out of hand.
According to data collected by the University Grants Commission between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 for a first survey to size up the problem of sexual harassment on campuses, 103 women students alleged they were victimised. Among those, 24 were from UP, but none from the BHU.
Cases were reported from Aligarh University, Ambedkar University, and Sharda University among others. Of 16 cases reported from Punjab, 12 were from Panjab University, Chandigarh. Eight complaints came from Haryana and 15 from University of Calicut in Kerala.
The UGC data, particularly relating to UP, reflected a trend supported by statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau, the official compiler of crime statistics in the country. The number of sexual harassment cases in the state went up by 33% -- from 4,435 in 2014 to 5,925 in 2015, reported Indiaspend, a data journalism website, quoting NCRB figures.
“Cases range from eve-teasing, stalking, to sending vulgar messages to girl students. This includes students as well as teachers. In many cases, deduction of marks has been carried out as a penalty, affidavit of good conduct has been taken from students, students are put on discipline probation and debarred from campus placements,” a senior UGC official told HT.
The commission 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 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. 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,” explained a senior UGC official.
The commission has also asked institutions whether workshops or awareness programmes against sexual harassment were conducted during the year.
In one complaint from a university in NCR, a student complained of stalking by fellow classmates. In the action-taken report, the authorities said a written apology was taken from the accused and counselling sessions were conducted. A fine of Rs 2,000 was also imposed.