The Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of Jawaharlal Nehru University has decided to hold monthly counselling sessions for students, to make them aware of the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ of sexual harassment.
In an announcement on the university website, the ICC said the first such session, scheduled for January 17, is being held “to make the students (both boys and girls) aware about what consists of sexual harassment”. The ICC said although such counselling was held during the orientation program, students “need to refresh their knowledge about the same”.
The announcement also states such sessions are required as “girls (are) supposed to know how to draw a tangible line (between them and their male friends) to avoid any such harassments (sic)”.
Asked what was meant by this, ICC Presiding Officer Punam Kumari told The Indian Express: “We get several complaints where sexual harassment cases take place between men and women who are close friends. They touch each other, hug each other. But the moment women feel that they don’t feel comfortable about this, they should state this clearly to their male friend. Till the time they don’t speak, and if they keep it to themselves, then it doesn’t work. If he continues to do it despite being told, then the ICC is there.”
“It is important for both boys and girls to know where the line has to be drawn… Girls also need to say it before the matter goes out of hand if they don’t like (being touched or hugged). These things have to be conveyed clearly. Otherwise how will the person know what you want? These are small things which we will tell them about along with all the rules and regulations of ICC,” said Kumari.
The ICC announcement further states: “ICC (has) come across a number of cases where sexual harassment takes place among close friends. Boys generally cross (sometimes advertently, sometimes inadvertently) the thin line between friendship’s bantering and sexual harassment.”
The ICC said such sessions would keep students “abreast of what is sexual harassment” and “what could be the prospective repercussions if found guilty of sexual harassment”.
The ICC said that through such a counselling session, the “number of sexual harassment cases will be reduced for sure”, and it would “dissipate any confusion related to sexual harassment”.
For this, the ICC has floated an online Google form, and said that the counselling session will be held if 20 or more forms are received from students who are interested.