For the first time in decades, the Committee Against Sexual Harassment and for Gender Sensitisation (CASHFGS) in the Aligarh Muslim University will finally have women students and non-university representatives on the board. The AMU administration has finally given in to the long-pending demand for restructuring the Committee that is mandated to investigate into complaints of sexual harassment on the Campus.
AMU’s Vice-Chancellor Lieutenant-General Zammerud-din Shah has issued orders for reorganising CASHFGS. This is followed by the approval of the executive council of the University that passed the resolution to check sexual harassment and violence against women on the campus.
Until now, the CASHFGS panel included only the teaching faculty from the University. They were against the rules that specify that of the nine-member panel, at least two should be women students and there should be one female representative each from the non-teaching staff, a legal expert from outside the university and from a non-government organisation.
Absence of these members was perceived as the reason for non resolution of complaints.
“There are at least 32 cases pending before the CASHFGS, and since most of these cases involved complaints against teaching members, none of these have been investigated into properly and there has been no finding. It [reconstruction of the committee] is a historic move,” said Jasim Mohammad, national president of Central Universities Research Scholar’s Association at Media Centre Aligarh.
The reconstitution of the Committee will make it more “vibrant, transparent and meaningful”, he said, adding: “Now that there are student, legal and NGO representatives on the board, the faith in the functioning of the Committee will be restored. People who need redress for their complaints will be willing to come forwards.”
Welcoming the move, Deeba Abrar, an AMU student said there was a need to create awareness against sexual harassment on the campus and initiate campaigns to change the prevalent mindset about crimes against women.
The restructured committee has been reconstituted under the chairmanship of Prof. Nighat Ahmad from the Department of Economics, who will also be the convener of the Committee. The other two members from the teaching faculty are Prof. Tabassum Naqvi, Department of Civil Engineering and Prof. Sandhya Maheshwari, Department of Orthodontia / Human Dental Anatomy.