Naxal Resistance

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Women’s safety a poll plank in JNU

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 26, 2007

NEW DELHI: Long live Guevara and down with US imperialism. Student leaders at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) are known to invoke these slogans seeking votes in the varsity union polls. But this year, they will go beyond the macro national and international issues and raise questions on safety of women on the campus in the wake of the recent cases of sexual harassment, molestation and eve teasing on the otherwise vibrant premises.

In July, a Kenyan allegedly molested three Phd students at Ganga dhaba. Three weeks later, four outsiders visiting Ganga dhaba passed lewd remarks and attempted to molest a couple of women students. Recently, nine research students of Sanskrit alleged that their department head C Upender Rao had asked for sexual favours to ensure speedy completion of their research work. All these cases have been reported in the gender sensitisation committee against sexual harassment (GSCASH), a body to deal with such issues.

Keeping these recent incidents of sexual harassment in mind, CPI(M)-backed Students Federation of India and CPI(M-L)-backed All India Students' Association of India (AISA) have been demanding quick redressal of such cases by GSCASH, which is accused of being inept. "Eight years back, when the GSCASH was constituted, students had enormous faith in it as their complaints used to be addressed and resolved in the specified time limit of three months. However, with the lackadaisical and inept functioning of this body for past few years, students are not sure if GSCASH can bring justice to them as none of the sexual harassment cases reported in the past two years have been solved," said Albina Shakil, state SFI secretary, who is also a former GSCASH member.

She added: "Even as sexual harassment cases have been rampant on the campus, there is no speedy inquiry by GSCASH. It's a big cause of concern for us and would be brought up in the elections." Despite ideological differences with rival SFI, AISA too feels there is a need for a safer campus. "To check the increasing number of sexual harassment cases, we need to beef up the security and speed up inquiry process," said outgoing JNUSU general secretary and AISA activist Sandeep Singh.

The right wing party, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) also demands more democratisation of the GSCASH. "At present, the body has elected students members besides representatives from administration too. It should be converted to all students' body," said Manoj Kumar, party's state executive member.

All major political parties have been demanding the inclusion of domestic violence under the purview of GSCASH. "Since JNU is a residential campus, cases of domestic violence have been reported but they die a silent death. Though the administration has accepted that such cases should be considered by GSCASH, we demand that it should happen at the earliest," said Shakil.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com


sonia.sarkar@timesgroup.com

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