CITY COLLEGES will now have an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to make campuses safe and inclusive for women students as well as teachers. The ICC will be similar to those that workplaces are mandated to have under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
In March this year, the Women’s Development Cell (WDC) of the University of Mumbai directed all colleges to set up an ICC under their Women’s Development Cell. The aim was to have a robust mechanism to address the complaints of female students or faculty members facing harassment at all college campuses across the city.
“The UWDC will play a facilitating role with the WDCs of colleges. The Kalina Campus also has its own ICC, which will receive complaints from campus,” said Gita Chadha, the chairperson of the University Women’s Development Cell (UWDC).
The University is also in the process of appointing a new deputy vice-chancellor for to handle UWDC, said Chadha, adding that most colleges have already complied with the direction.
The college WDCs will face an annual audit by the UDWC which will take stock of the number of complaints received, how many of them were resolved and how the colleges dealt will the complaints, said Chadha.
The ICC is only a part of the activities that the WDCs in colleges carry out.
Started in December 2013, the cells deal with the issues the students face in their lives, both inside and outside the college premises. Over the four years of its functioning, the WDCs across the city have conducted have conducted special sessions for members of the cells of various colleges to meet and discuss common issues and procedural queries. From gender sensitisation to self-defence classes, colleges are making campuses more inclusive.
At St Xavier’s College in Dhobi Talao, gender sensitisation courses were held for 900 students over a single semester by Akshara, a non-governmental organisation. Neha Jain, the representative from the St Xavier’s WDC said, “The cell also held a self-defence workshop, where 50 girls were taught by karate trainers.”
”The procedure of filing a complaint is displayed across the college campus,” said Linda Dhakul, the convener of the cell at St. Xavier’s. “Students can either drop a letter in the dropbox or deliver it to the principal personally”, said Dhakul.
The Gender Issues Cell at KC College hosted a national conference that discussed domestic violence and looked to redefine violence in public spaces. Various speakers from all over the country were brought in for it.
They also have an annual magazine called “Celebrating Differences”, which contains experiences from the students themselves.
The cell also started a two-month certificate course on gender sensitisation, which is open to students from across the city. About 120 students have taken the course, according to Sujay Bhandary, the cell representative from KC College.