In the wake of a brutal attack on a JNU student by her classmate who later committed suicide,teachers,in an open letter,have reiterated the need to strengthen agencies working on increasing gender sensitivity on campus.
Expressing concern over the recent events,the letter stressed that safety and security of women on the campus was an urgent and pressing matter.
Teachers said the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) set up on the campus needed to be strengthened. ..we wish to reiterate the need to strengthen and support GSCASH. We are conscious that if the woman student,who has been so brutally attacked,had approached GSCASH with a complaint,matters would probably have not come to this, the letter said.
The list of signatories include economists C P Chandrasekhar,Jayati Ghosh,social scientists Nivedita Menon and G Arunima,historians Kumkum Roy and Neeladri Bhattacharya,among others.
The letter was meant to support GSCASH. The point is that there is a procedure,implicit in which is the need for confidentiality. Since there is a well-laid process,there is a need to support this, C P Chandrasekhar said.
Voicing their concerns over various attempts to undermine the functioning of GSCASH,the teachers wrote, This is not just unhealthy,but also uncalled for. It undermines a very important institution that is essential for ensuring a safe space for women. We note that GSCASH rules and procedures are very comprehensive and mindful of the requirements of natural justice.
GSCASH was formed in 1999 as a result of a long-drawn students movement. JNU set up the committee in 1999 following the Supreme Court order laying down guidelines for prevention of sexual harassment in workplace in 1997.
The major problem is that students do not want to report cases to GSCASH. After the recent incident,the situation has improved. A lot of students are coming forward with their experiences,but this is primarily happening at a personal level. When it comes to filing an official complaint,they refuse, Dipti Tamang,student representative to GSCASH,said.
This is because there have been instances when the information has leaked out. We also need to understand that while JNU is seen as a liberal campus,its students come from different socio-economic backgrounds…, Dipti said.