The MeToo wave has finally arrived at the IIT Roorkee campus, as women scholars at the campus have protested against the alleged sexual misconduct by at least five professors.
Priyanka Yadav | The New Leam
Five professors including the director and the dean of IIT-Roorkee have been charged with sexual harassment cases. Two students from IIT Roorkee and another foreign scholar who was present at the university to present a paper have charged the professors of sexual misconduct. The matter was reported by the women students at the women’s cell of the university which is an established body formed under the UGC regulation 2015. As informed by the students, even after reporting the matter at the women’s cell justice was not met and misconduct continued even after. This compelled the students to report the matter to the Hardwar police in the past 10 days.
As reported the research scholars informed that the supervisor use to harass them and they eventually complained about the matter to the dean of the university who transferred the case to the women’s cell of the university, the women’s cell instead of taking any action against the professor actually changed the supervisor of the student and left the professor without taking any action against him.
As per the UGC regulation 2015 it is mandatory for universities across India to establish a committee to look into matters of sexual harassment in university spaces. But the recent cases like the one mentioned here and the other one which came to light in JNU where the internal complaints committee barred the woman student from entering the university by stating that the evidence produced by the complainant was false. Such cases have rather created a space of fear amongst the students instead of providing a safe and secure environment to them.
Recent statistics by the International Monetary Fund has shown that the enrollment of girls in higher education has increased from 39% to 46% from 2007 to 2014. Although the numbers have increased, universities have opened their gates for larger participation and even women are realising the importance of education but is this realisation or acceptance absolute.
The enrollment must have increased but fair treatment has still not meted out to the students. Universities have time and again failed to provide a secure environment to its women students be it JNU, DU or IITs, women are still unsafe.
Committees are formed and functional but their representatives are becoming unfair towards their own women students, women are judged, they are mistreated and are always at the receiving end of punishment meted by the institution and the society at large.
On grounds and technically in law there are regulations and guidelines for dealing with sexual harassment cases in university spaces and at workplace at large but if we look at the recent narratives of the complainant and the judgments passed by the committee, in reality they show a glim picture of the dealings and handling of sexual harassment cases.
Such judgments accentuate an environment of fear where women will never feel secure by having a body in the university which looks at sexual harassment cases rather she would think again and again before seeking help. The public universities in recent years have been engulfed with instances of exploitation and violation against women, these cases of gross exploitation of women explain that despite seventy years of independence we have still not been able to provide safe learning environment to women.