A 28-year-old sanitation worker was Friday arrested for the alleged sexual harassment of a woman student of SRM University following a complaint by the varsity, the police said. The institute expressed regret over the “unfortunate incident,” and placed a hostel warden under suspension.
A statement from N Sethuraman, Registrar, SRM Institute of Science and Technology (SRMIST) said the accused was arrested following a complaint lodged by it with the police.
How Victim-Shaming Of A Survivor Led To Protests In Chennai’s SRM University pic.twitter.com/rC3URqPD57
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On Thursday, the students had protested inside the university, located at Kattankulathur on the outskirts of Chennai, alleging inaction on the part of the administration despite the victim’s complaint.
University Vice-Chancellor Sandeep Sancheti, however, had denied the allegations.
According to a student, the victim was sexually harassed inside the women’s hostel lift at around 3 pm Thursday.
“The man masturbated in front of the student in the hostel lift, following which she reported the issue to the hostel warden,” the student, who did not wish to be identified, said.
However, the hostel warden brushed her concern aside and instead indulged in victim-shaming by questioning the clothes that the victim was wearing, the student, who took part in the protest, said.
Soon, the information spread across the campus triggering a massive protest, videos and pictures of which went viral on the social media.
On Friday, Sethuraman said the “culprit in question” was an “outsourced contractual employee who collects food waste from the mess.”
“Having circumvented basic security provisions, he was in the lift when the incident occurred. As the hostel is well equipped with CCTV, it helped us identify the culprit quickly,” he said.
There was a “slight delay” in filing a police complaint due to protocol requirements and seeking consent of the parents concerned on the matter, “during which the situation escalated,” he said.
“Based on the incident (that) occurred, a committee has been commissioned to look into the issue and the warden has been suspended.
It is also looking into strengthening the students’ safety and security measures in the campus,” he said.
Underlining the institute’s commitment to ensure safety of the students, he said there were woman guards and counsellors who “are at the service of the students.”
“Students are given the freedom to voice their concerns, issues and challenges.
The entire security system processes and procedures are being relooked, prioritizing the security aspects,” he said, adding that the institute would give the “very best” for each student in every aspect of campus life.