The State Directorate of Higher Education is apparently “misleading” the government and the judiciary on measures by colleges in Maharashtra to prevent eve-teasing. Data compiled by the Pune-based directorate shows almost 95 per cent compliance by the 1,200-odd aided and government institutes of higher learning.
This would mean 95 per cent of them would at least have boards displayed on campus warning against eve-teasing and displaying contact numbers of the nearest police station. The ground reality suggests even this was absent and figures submitted to the government are inflated. The database is also being submitted before the Bombay High Court in connection with a PIL on eve-teasing.
A reality check revealed that stipulated measures were absent in most colleges, leaving lakhs of girl students exposed to mental torture and sexual crime. No measures to prevent eve-teasing was seen even at the reputed Fergusson College in Pune, one of the oldest institutions in the state. The college authorities expressed ignorance about having sent any data to the education department about status of implementation, in absence of any formal orders.
“We have an anti-sexual harassment cell and anti-ragging cell in our college. Measures to prevent eve-teasing on campus would be put in place shortly,” vice-principal N M Kulkarni said.
The campus of Modern College of Arts, Science and Commerce at Shivajinagar was no exception. Norms to prevent eve-teasing were missing.
MES’s Abasaheb Garware College off Karve Road had a few banners with a message, “say no to eve-teasing”.
Many colleges wrongly consider policy against sexual harassment and anti-eve-teasing measures as one and the same, though they are different set of guidelines for protection of girls and women in educational institutes, say experts. The Supreme Court in 2012 passed directions pertaining to eve-teasing, observing that protection of girls and women at educational institutions and workplaces is of “extreme importance”.
Jayant Jain of advocacy group ‘Forum for Fairness in Education’ stressed that data compiled by education directorate about eve-teasing was wrong. “Hardly around one to two percent colleges have anti-eve-teasing measures. The figure of 95 per cent compliance is an attempt to mislead government and judiciary. The issue is sensitive and penal action should be invoked against senior officials from education directorate and colleges for non-compliance,” he said.
Apprised about lack of anti-eve-teasing measures contrary to data submitted, officiating director of education (higher), Prakash Gaikwad said regional directorates would be asked to cross-check data.
“Regional directorates are responsible for collection of data sought by the government. Sometimes data is sourced from public universities. Addressing eve-teasing on campuses is of paramount importance to us, and we will do the needful,” he told Newsline on Tuesday.
Speaking to Newsline, Sneha Bhagwat, a second-year BA (English) student of Fergussoon College said, “Girl students often come across lewd remarks or advances by male counterparts on campuses. If anti-eve-teasing measures are in place, girls will get a platform to raise grievances and set a strong deterrent.”
Modern College principal R S Zunjarrao said colleges were committed to implementing anti-eve-teasing measures, but the state government should offer financial support for measures such as installing CCTV cameras and deploying security staff.
Anagha Tambe, head of Women’s Studies Centre at Savitribai Phule Pune University said eve-teasing is termed as a form of sexual assault and should be dealt with an iron hand by urban and rural colleges.