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[Y]Xpress: PhD Student At St. Stephen’s Files Sexual Harassment Case Against Asst. Professor

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By YKA Staff:

In the news right now, is St Stephen’s college of Delhi University where a PhD student in the chemistry department has alleged that she was sexually harassed by Assistant Prof. Satish Kumar, and has filed a FIR against him, under section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty). The student has alleged that the inappropriate behaviour began back in May 2013, and that in October 2013 is when he assaulted her, when “He pulled (her) towards himself and touched her inappropriately”.  The student filed a report with the Internal Complaints Committee in February this year, and has also claimed that the principal of the college, Mr. Valson Thampu, discouraged her from filing a report.

St Stephens

A TOI report says that St Stephen’s college’s media advisor, Karen Gabriel has since issued a statement saying that the sexual harassment complaint  “was duly and promptly forwarded by the principal to the ICC and an inquiry, following proper procedure, is underway. The said inquiry is nearing completion.”

While actual investigation will reveal the truth of the matter, this is yet another example of mishandling of a sexual harassment complaint by the concerned authorities. And for this to have happened at an educational institution, where students are expected to have safe refuge is just deplorable. While violence against women has everyone up in arms defending their rights, when it comes to actual action little is done to actually bring them justice. This case has come to light even while the mishandling of a sexual harassment complaint by an employee (now ex) working at NGO Greenpeace is raising eyebrows all over the world.  How colleges and organisations deal with such complaints when they first come to light reflects on their stance on the matter. That the student in this case struggled to file her complaint suggests poor response on the part of the college.

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  1. Ursula

    It takes 3 years to file a complaint? It’s impossible to prove or disprove the actual harassment at this point. The only achiement would be successfully maligning the professor and the institution. Call me cynical, but this smells of an unaccepted thesis. And a vengeful student.

  2. Dr. Harsh

    A person is leading a normal life with his fair share of happiness and disappointment, is busy struggling to make a name so that he can provide for himself, his wife and kids. One fine day, all hell breaks loose. The person is accused of a heinous crime and his life is turned upside down in an instant. He is arrested and his name is all over in the electronic and print media in the whole of the country.

    The media bays for his blood; so do the self-styled human rights groups. He is submitted to a summary trial by the media andthe society. Friends and business associates who used to swear to stand by him in the bad times start shunning him. In matter of just one day, he has become an outcaste from the society.

    His family is made to suffer from some really bad times in financial terms as well as social terms.A year or so down the line, the person who had accused him of the heinous crime suddenly remembers that the facts were somewhat different. The crime had not been committed and actually the accusation was false. In all probability, the case will now fall flat as the accused has turned hostile. The accused will sooner or later walk free. But how is the person who had been wrongly accused of committing a crime going to get his lost year back?

    Who will compensate him for the agonizing and humiliating time that he has gone through? Who will put the smile back on the face of the family members who had been put to the most testing times in their lives for no fault of theirs? How are they going to pick up the broken thread of their life and try to weave it back into the original shape and texture?

    Are there any laws in the Indian legal system to prevent such false accusations and to punish such false accusations? If one wants to fix a political or business opponent, just get a woman to accuse him of committing a rape on her or molesting her or even more vague charge of some harassment. Just one word of accusation and the person is fixed for a long long while to come. By the time he is able to come out of it or prove his innocence, the opponents would have made hay. The mud will stick to him for the whole of his life even though he has been legally cleared of the accusations.

    It is said that the law is an ass. No saying is more apt when it comes to the condition of the Indian male. Whether it is the misuse of the dowry law where the whole family of the man is often put behind the bars or such false accusations, the Indian law is so much loaded in favour of women that men have nowhere to go to seek protection in case of a false accusation.

    The supreme court and various high courts have often stressed on the need to check the rampant misuse of the various dowry laws. But the Indian parliamentarians are too busy raising their own salaries to see that a law is in place to protect the Indian male.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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