Calling the current law dealing with issues of sexual harassment in Delhi University (DU) “weak, regressive and against students’ interest”, DU students and teachers announced a campaign to bring in tougher legislation to deal with such cases.
Last year, DU had scrapped its earlier sexual harassment policy (Ordinance XV-D) and brought in a new one in accordance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013.
“The new law recognises only women as victims of sexual harassment and totally fails to acknowledge that even men can be victims,” Aapurv Jain, a student of DU’s gender studies group and a member of the campaign, said.
“Ordinance XV-D was a gender neutral policy which recognised that even men can be sexually harassed, whereas the new policy only recognises women as victims… According to the new policy, LGBT students cannot file a complaint of sexual harassment. It has left first and second year male students unprotected against harassment within the university system. In short, the law has left out more people than it has included,” Professor Ved Kumari, Law Centre, DU, said.
In an open interaction between students and teachers, students from different DU colleges emphasised the need for a better law to tackle harassment.
“When I joined college, I was told to join the gender sensitisation cell. When I asked what my role would be, the teacher just said ‘There’s hardly any work here’,” a student of Ramjas College said.
“Last year, we saw two cases in DU where principals sexually harassed their junior officers in Ambedkar and ARSD colleges and got away with it. All this is symptomatic of the general trivialisation of sexual harassment and the lack of seriousness with which such cases are treated in DU. The volume of such cases is only increasing. We need to bring in not just the old ordinance, but to strengthen it with the new law,” Ashley Tellis, an ex-DU professor who is part of the campaign, said.