The Delhi Commission for Women on Saturday issued a notice to the registrar of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in connection with an alleged sexual assault case.
In the notice, commission’s chief Swati Maliwal asked the registrar to submit a report on the alleged incident and detail the steps the university has taken to increase security on campus.
The sexual assault incident happened when a Doctor of Philosophy, or PhD, student was walking on the campus around Monday midnight, reported PTI. The man allegedly tried to rape her but when she raised an alarm, he snatched her phone and fled.
The police said they have registered a case and formed several teams to find the accused person, who has not been identified yet, reported India Today. Meanwhile, the Jawaharlal Nehru Teachers’ Association has demanded reinstating the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment that used to deal with complaints of sexual harassment, according to The Indian Express.
In the notice, Maliwal said that the students and teachers of the university have been demanding strict action to prevent sexual assault incidents on the campus.
She said that students also want the gender sensitisation committee reinstated that was disbanded in 2017 and replaced by Internal Complaints Committee.
“It appears that the disbanded GSCASH [Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment] had proper representation of students and teachers and GSCASH was more more effective in dealing with cases of sexual harassment than the current Internal Complaints Committee constituted by the Committee,” the notice said.
It said that the Internal Complaints Committee also seemed not to have proper representation of students.
The notice asked the registrar to provide the details of the Internal Complaints Committee and its members and the steps the university has taken to ensure proper representation of students in the panel.
It sought the details of the process used to select members to the Internal Complaints Committee.
It also asked the details of the members of the disbanded Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment and the steps taken by the university administration to consider the demands to reinstate it.
Following the sexual assault incident, JNU Registrar Professor Ravikesh had said that an investigation was going on. His statement had also said that the university has zero-tolerance towards any form of violence on campus and was committed towards providing a safer environment to all its residents on the campus.
Internal Complaints Committee
The Internal Complaints Committee has faced flak since it was set up and students have been demanding the revival of the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment.
In December, the Internal Complaints Committee had released a circular, which was criticised for suggesting that women were responsible for their safety when it comes to sexual harassment.
“ICC [Internal Complaints Committee] come across a number of cases where sexual harassment takes place among close friends,” the circular had said. “Boys generally cross [sometimes advertently, sometimes inadvertently] the thin line between friendship’s bantering and sexual harassment. Girls [are] suppos[ed] to know how to draw a tangible line [between them and their male friends] to avoid any such harassments.”
Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union President Aishe Ghosh, in a statement accessed by The Wire, said that the instruction in the circular seeks to blame the person who has been harassed.
Komal Singh, a researcher at the university, said that the Internal Complaints Committee was a flawed institution from its inception.
“We have seen how GSCASH [Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment] successfully made JNU one of the safest zone for womenfolk,” she had said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, the Internal Complaints Committee’s Presiding Officer Punam Kumari told The Indian Express that she gets several complaints about sexual harassment between close friends.
“They touch each other, hug each other,” she said. “But the moment women feel that they don’t feel comfortable about this, they should state this clearly to their male friend.”