The University Grants Commission (UGC) recently brought out a report to the Lok Sabha that took a look at how sexual harassment cases across Indian universities and campuses have seen a 50% increase since 2017.
Satya Pal Singh, the Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, taking data from the UGC stated that as many as 149 cases of sexual harassment were said to be reported from universities throughout the country, while colleges and other institutions reported about 39 cases in 2017. This is a big leap from the 2016 numbers of only 94 such cases from the university side and 18 cases reported from colleges and other institutions’ end.
This report comes in the light of the recent JNU protest when more than hundred students from the university made their way to the Vasant Kunj (north) police station on Monday to demand the arrest of a JNU professor, Atul Johri who has been accused of sexually harassing female students.
What Is The JNU Incident?
The recent sexual harassment case of JNU female students by professor Atul Johri, as reported by news sources, is one to take notice of in light of the report by UGC.
A few days back on March 16th, almost 8 complaints according to sources, were filed at the Vasant Kunj police station against professor Johri, however, out of them, only 1 was registered as an FIR.
This angered the female students who felt that the Delhi Police were creating unnecessary delay in taking any action which resulted in almost 100 JNU students protesting outside the mentioned police station on Monday with them chanting slogans like ‘Delhi Police Murdabad’, as reported by news sites.
Apart from the students, almost 55 professors too sent a petition to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (South-West) Milind Dumbere requesting separating filing of FIR for all the 8 complaints instead of only taking one.
“Even though you have received 8 complaints, each of which reports incidents that are distinct and separated by space and time, you have chosen to register only one FIR under only one of the names. We are shocked to learn this as the law requires that a separate FIR is registered for each complaint,” the petition said.
What This Latest Report By UGC Means?
According to sources, the Union Minister has revealed that a task force headed by Professor Meenakshi Gopinath, who has been an ex-member of UGC, was set up in January of 2013. Its objective was to review the existing arrangements for the safety and security of girls and women on campuses of higher educational institutions.
The regulation as per sources has also brought in the provision for third-party complaints wherein someone apart from the victim can make the complaint on their behalf, usually a family member, friend or colleague.
But apart from the rules and regulations, while it is definitely a scary and disturbing thing to see such a high number of cases being reported, perhaps there is also a silver lining to this all.
Because we don’t know whether the low numbers from last year’s reports were due to less crime or was it because students were afraid of reporting sexual harassment in the first place.
Maybe this is giving an indication that students are no longer afraid of social stigma or opinions and if something wrong is happening, they will report it to the authorities.
Since it is only when people actually realize the level of crime happening can the authorities take appropriate action to curb it.
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