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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Mumbai colleges conduct programmes to combat sexual harassment

After #METOO, alumni, experts invited on campus; students explained what constitutes harassment

mumbai Updated: Nov 12, 2018 08:59 IST
Shreya Bhandary
Shreya Bhandary
Hindustan Times
Taking a leaf from the movement, several city colleges have been conducting awareness programmes as well as interactive sessions for their staff and students
Taking a leaf from the movement, several city colleges have been conducting awareness programmes as well as interactive sessions for their staff and students (HT PHOTO)
         

Incidents of harassment at workplaces has been highlighted very often and the recent wave of support for the on-going #MeToo movement has once again brought the focus on gender-based violence. Taking a leaf from the movement, several city colleges have been conducting awareness programmes as well as interactive sessions for their staff and students in order to make sure that everyone is aware of something as basic as what constitutes harassment.

At Jai Hind College, Churchgate, apart from a host of awareness programs conducted over a period of time, former students have been roped in to talk to the current batches.

“Some of our ex-students, who are currently working as lawyers, have been invited to talk to students. While students are aware of the ongoing movement, it’s surprising to know how most are not aware what constitutes harassment,” said Ashok Wadia, principal of the college.

He added that the college will also set up a separate committee soon, especially for students who want to talk about incidents or simply want to clear their doubts.

All higher education institutes already have a women’s development cell, which look into matters of harassment against women. However, the University Grants Commission in 2015 had requested all institutes to constitute an internal complaints committee (ICC) to deal with issues of gender-based violence and to conduct gender sensitisation programs.

“Even though the ICC of our institute keeps conducting sensitisation programs, it is surprising to see how many youngsters get bullied in the virtual world and don’t even know that such instances are termed as harassment. Our college is taking extra care and bringing on board experts to make children aware of such issues,” said Sobhana Vasudevan, principal of RA Podar College, Matunga.

With the internet at their disposal, many colleges know that students are already aware of a lot that is happening around the world but the importance of one-on-one interactions is still very important, feel many. “Students sometimes hear or read something and they are not comfortable with sharing their doubts about with their parents. So, they end up looking for help in college. Either friends or counsellors come handy in such times so we make sure students know whom to approach,” said Naresh Chandra, principal of Birla College, Kalyan. He added that the institute’s ICC has been conducting various programs for increased awareness amongst staff as well as students.