SocietyCampus Harassments On Indian Campuses And The Apathy Of ICCs

Harassments On Indian Campuses And The Apathy Of ICCs

In a college in Delhi University, an ICC member got charged for assaulting his girlfriend, who got caught in the college CCTV footage.He is still a part of the ICC.

Posted by Harshita Malik

The diminishing lights out there
Increase my fear on roads
No it’s not about the animals outside
It is the friend who sits next to me, and study codes.

“In a college in Delhi University(I’d refrain from naming) an ICC member got charged for assaulting his girlfriend, who got caught in the college CCTV footage. This guy is still in ICC though”, said Shivank, a law student who has recently graduated from Kirori Mal College. Shivank is one of the students who were involved in the latest protests, namely Pinjra Tod and the ones which took place in Bharti College. Shivank and group formed a collective of ICC and WDC (Women Development Cell) for all the colleges under Delhi University. There have been quite a number of colleges involved in the WDC, they are still working to get more under the collective.

Richa* is a final year Journalism student in one of the very reputed colleges of Delhi. It was the shoot day and the class students were out 200 meters away from the college campus. Richa sudenly heard a voice from behind, “Aye!”  The guy in the car smiled and winked at Richa. She instantly reacted “Aye ruk!” This led to mishandling of words from both the sides, which never ended. The guy who sat in the driver’s seat drove the car forward and stopped a little away from the spot.

Just then another car came and stopped by. The men in the car stepped down and asked the petrified group of friends about what happened and what did the men in the car ahead say. The friends were too scared to think rationally and so asked for some help from the second group of men. It was later that they realised all of them were friends.

They tried stopping a police van that went by them. The van didn’t stop even after looking at Richa and her friend waving at them. All of them decided to go to the college campus and look at the CCTV footage of the camera that is placed on the college gate. One of the administration authorities asked them whether it was ‘only’ verbal abuse or some major physical harm. He confirmed that the boys could not possibly be the students of the same college because “Our college doesn’t have such students.” They however didn’t get to see the footage because the camera’s face was turned backward facing the trees.

While deciding about how to find out whether the men were of the same college and who were they, the authority asked Richa that what was the reason for the boy to wink at her and that it was Richa who outraged the boy by abusing him, which led him to misbehave back with her. The Principal of the college was informed about the incident who asked Richa whether these students had any staff member appointed with them. “You should have told me, I would have asked my staff to go along with you on the shoot spot.” The question that arises here is, what about all other women of the college who go back home from the same path? Are they going to appoint staff with all of them or they don’t care about people going back from the campus?

Richa and her friends were never called back. The accused students were never looked for in the college campus. It was the next day that Richa realised the people in both the cars were from the same college, except the one who winked at her. She can now see those boys everyday in the college, waiting for other harassments in the premises.  

I never knew someone who gets the same grades
would touch me on places I don’t allow
I never knew he had a plan to harass me
when he started with raising a brow.

She wishes to abuse them a little more, to punish them for their transgressions, to let them know that this isn’t something very cool. Unfortunately, she can never do that because all of them belong to the student union of the college. Richa fears her survival in the city after the boys come to know that she is planning to teach them a lesson.

Also read: TISS Hyderabad Students Protest Against Arbitrary Administrative Decisions

Another incident of a college in North campus might give you an insight into the very educated population of the sector. A professor was accused of sending obscene messages to a female student who later posted the screenshots of the chats in several whatsapp groups. No further actions by the authorities led to a huge protest by the girls outside his teaching room. The protest went a little violent by the protestors which finally resulted in suspending the professor from the college.

The women of all these college can now only be a little more careful while walking down the streets, because there’s neither the administration, nor the cops who can do good with creating a safe space for the students in and outside the premises.

Whether its about Ashok* sir not letting Richa to file a complaint because their college students cannot misbehave or its about Akshay taking liberties to put hands around Riddhi’s* waist and thighs, or its about the Maths teacher who rubbed himself against the 4th standard kid in his class, we have to go a long way in achieving a safer space for our students to walk freely in the campuses of their institutes, because let’s remind ourselves, safe education is our right.

Those who made all of us sign the harassment policies,
have now turned their backs when its time.
I was wrong when I wished to go out,
It still was 4 in the evening and not nine.

The ICCs (Internal Complaints Committee) are required to be made in all workplaces for the redressal of sexual harassment cases. Any aggrieved woman who has suffered harassment at the workplace can approach the ICC. This woman can be an employee, somebody visiting the institution or a student. The ICC shall initiate an enquiry into such allegations. If a prima facie case of sexual harassment exists, the Committee shall submit its finding to the police station. On the completion of the report, it shall be submitted to the principal or the district officer.

“Everytime we hold a meeting, all the members complain about the administration not letting them work. They don’t let us exist. In one of the notices, they even published my mother’s phone number”, informed Shivank.

Any aggrieved woman who has suffered harassment at the workplace can approach the ICC.

Two female students amongst all the colleges, had contested for the ICC, out of which one was selected. The rules say there has to be 50% female members in the committee. “Had it not been for the rules, there must’ve been all the male members in the here”, he said.

But what if there is no such committee from the college? What if the existing ICC doesn’t work in the first place? If your college, or your workplace doesn’t have one, do care to file an RTI to the Principal. Richa’s college did have an ICC, only on papers.

Shivank and his group have started their demands for an independent ICC in the Faculty of Law college too. The administration however asks them to refer to the apex body only. “We are trying to approach the authorities and ask them to release a uniform pattern for ICC. Because there are no rules for electing the members of the committee.”

Also read: What Happened In SRM College: The Rampancy Of Sexism In Educational Institutions

I hope nobody amongst us, has to carry a pepper spray, or a safety pin or any safety instrument in hands while walking towards our workplaces or educational institutes. I really wish the harassers of our places understand a little phrase which says “Ye college, ya school, Ye ground ka kinara, Jitna tumhara utna hi humara.” (This college, this school, the edges of the ground, belong to me just as much they do to you)

Harshita Malik is an undergraduate student pursuing Journalism and Mass Communication (Hons.) from University if Delhi.

Important: The names with an * have been changed to maintain anonymity.  

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