NEHU Students Union on the attempts to subvert Sexual Harassment Act of 2013 in #NEHU
The NEHUSU student body has been impelled on this occasion, to make known, on account of the passivity of the concerned authorities, the overall issue, of women’s security, which finds itself, in a direful predicament, inside the NEHU campus. NEHU occupies a position of prestige, as a vanguard of the cause of knowledge and enlightenment, a symbol of progressive liberality and equality; with its pristine atmosphere, as a haven which promotes and encourages all that is fair, right and just. It is a guardian, keeper of knowledge and a torchbearer, worthy of note and praise. However, what belies this veneer of almost utopian excellence and ideals is a dystopian reality, most foul. In light of this, the student body wishes to share an enumeration of the countless distasteful and disreputable incidents and episodes which persistently plague its campus, the remedy of which is altogether, invisible and unfathomable, to the myopic powers that be of the university. Incidentally, the enlightened student community has on many occasions, sought the immediate redressal of these issues. The obstinacy of the authorities, however, has proven an obstruction. To make matters worse, when students question these issues, they were told that students belong in playgrounds and classrooms, and not in scenes of protest or agitation. In a university where rampant corruption, mismanagement and utter disregard for the students’ interest and welfare, prevails, it is only natural for the student community to fight for its rights and privileges. This blatant disregard toward students’ interest and welfare has led to many instances where the students have had to bear the brunt of the authorities’ lack of empathy and foresight. First and foremost, an incident which transpired not too long ago, concerning a female security guard of one of the girls’ hostels. The guard chanced upon a trespasser one evening, the ill-equipped security guard, instead of ejecting the perpetrator from the hostel premises, stricken with fear, took to her heels. This incident vividly reflects the insecurity which the female students have to contend with despite the adequate security available. The university is found utterly wanting, in providing, a sense of safety and security to the female students. Even, basic facilities such as street lights are scarce, in the areas where most of the girls’ hostels are situated. The fences around certain girls’ hostel have been erected most illogically, as their appalling height cannot even keep away stray animals. The grave lapses in security have resulted in a number of offences perpetrated against the hostellers and students in general. Reports of theft and trespassing are aplenty. To aggravate matters, a particular student has not even been spared by a certain devious and deviant professor who has perverted his noble status as an educator and who has brought ignominy upon the noble profession of teaching, by outraging the said student’s modesty. The case is shockingly, yet to be resolved, despite the relentless pressure from the teachers as well as the student community, to bring the perpetrator to justice. Despite the damning and clear cut evidence and testimonies gathered by the personalities tasked with the investigation of the recent case of molestation, the student body has received an unsettling piece of information, that the findings notwithstanding, no punitive action has been taken against the deviant professor.
The ICC (Internal Complaints Committee), which the UGC has provisioned in its regulations, is a committee, entrusted with the powers and responsibility to prevent, prohibit, and redress incidents of sexual harassment, of women employees and students, is surprisingly non-existent in NEHU. The Women’s Cell in NEHU, which is a semblance of the ICC, is, however, seen as toothless. Despite their genuine efforts to seek a just resolution of a recent shameful episode of sexual harassment against a student by a professor; the veracious findings and report of the Cell was deemed insufficient for initiating punitive action against the accused. This turn of events, is on account of the dogged obstinacy of the NEHU-EC to consider the Cell’s findings as final and definitive, and its recommendation, apt for the offence committed. It has come to the student body’s notice, from reliable sources that the EC has insisted on rejecting the findings of the Women’s Cell, and instead, constituting, yet another committee to investigate the matter. The EC’s decision is comparable to an attempt at delaying and obstructing the discharge of justice.
The student body, therefore, demands the implementation of a mandatory UGC regulation, as well as the Sexual Harassment Act of 2013, which provisions the constitution of an ICC so as to expressly deal with such issues. The ICC, it should be noted has been empowered specifically to redress and resolve issues of such nature, its findings and recommendations being final and binding. The UGC notification dated 5th of July, 2016, ref. No.- D.O.No.91-9/2015 (GS/MHRD) states; “The Executive Authority of the HEIs must mandatorily extend full support to see that the recommendations of the ICC are implemented in a timely manner. All possible institutional resources must be given to the functioning of the ICC…”. The statement brings to fore the disparity in powers and functioning between the ICC and NEHU’s Women’s Cell. As such, the constitution of the ICC is most needful, for the proper safeguard of the rights and dignity of the fairer sex in the NEHU campus.
This dissection of the reality of the quotidian reality prevailing within the campus reveals the putrefaction of ideals and values of this prestigious university. Authorities tasked with the safeguard and pursuit of students’ welfare and interest devote themselves to undermine and harm the very wards of the university. Repeat sexual offenders are appointed as professors and allowed to roam freely despite the mountain of evidence proving their guilt. These ills that have corrupted the university must be eliminated with utmost prejudice, a continued existence of the myopic and anti-student perspective of the powers that be must be uprooted, a failure to achieve this quest, will inevitably lead to the decay of this verdant institute of excellence.
The NEHU has a history of being callous and unjust to sexual abuse/sexual exploitation of its women community. The case of the female professor who was raped years back and much before this, the woman professor who was expelled from the university because she had an affair with the male HOD who himself, received no punitive treatment, are a couple of examples.