Thursday, 3 October 2013

SFI CEC Statement on Sexual Harassment and Ragging in Pondicherry University

Ensure Punishment to the Criminal Elements 
Who Indulged in Sexual Harassment, 
Ragging and Intimidation of Girl Students 
in Pondicherry University!
Set Up GSCASH in All Universities in India!!
The Central Executive Committee of the Students’ Federation of India strongly condemns the instances of sexual harassment, ragging and intimidation of girl students in Pondicherry University (PU) and the violence let loose against students who supported the girls.

The students of the University conducted a massive protest on Tuesday (1 October) night against the aforesaid criminal acts in the campus. Some girl students had filed a complaint against ragging and threat of rape by a group of senior students. The Kallapett police has filed an FIR against the aggressor under IPC sections 506 and 509. The students who supported the girl students in filing the complaint were under threat for the past few days, and on Tuesday morning, a gang of hooligans manhandled them. They threatened that they would cut off the legs of those students who stood with the girl students if the assailants are suspended from the University because of the complaint filed by the girl students. The gang also brutally beat up one of the students; his tooth was broken and he had to be admitted in JIPMER, Pondicherry. The security personnel of the University remained mute spectators throughout even as the gang unleashed violence.

When the girl complainant approached the Vice-Chancellor with her grievance, she was discouraged from filing the complaint – the VC’s prime “concern” was that the “reputation” of the institution would be spoiled. Such insensitivity of the University authorities has been one of the prime causes for the continuance of instances of sexual harassment in the campus. Following recent incidents, the students are under constant fear of being attacked at any moment. Ever since she filed the complaint, the girl student who was harassed has been continuously subjected to intimidation and threatened that she wouldn’t be allowed to complete her course of study in the University. Even more shockingly, the attempts to intimidate her are being led by a faculty member of the Department of Physical Education. There are also attempts to divert attention from the matter by fabricating false cases against the students who helped the girls in filing the complaint against the attacker.

The protest on Tuesday night saw massive participation of girl students and others. The students demanded that the University must take steps on an urgent basis to stop ragging, sexual harassment and goonda raj in the campus, and that the University must set up a Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) to address complaints of sexual harassment in the University.

The CEC of SFI demands that Pondicherry University must promptly take steps to ensure the safety and security of girl students in the campus and that the culprits in the case must be given exemplary punishment. We demand that a GSCASH be set up in the University immediately as the students have been demanding. It is appalling that sixteen years after the Supreme Court (in its Vishaka judgement of 1997) laid down binding directives regarding the formation of committees to deal with cases of sexual harassment, and in spite of the recently passed law against sexual harassment in workplaces, GSCASH has not been formed even in most central Universities. SFI demands that GSCASH should be constituted in all Universities and colleges in the country in order to effectively address cases of sexual harassment in campuses and to sensitise students on gender issues. The incidents in PU should serve to underscore the need for intensifying our struggle against ragging in campuses across the country and to establish GSCASH in all campuses.

Sd/-                                                                                  Sd/-
Dr. V Sivadasan, President                                                 Ritabrata Banerjee, General Secretary

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