Last December UGC had sent circulars to over 4,000 colleges. Only around 26 institutions have responded to UGC notification; heads of govt. colleges cite lack of resources to form permanent bodies.
A year after the University Grants Commission (UGC) instructed colleges across the country to establish anti-sexual harassment cells, only around 26 colleges in the State have implemented the measure.
Last December, after the gangrape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi rocked the country, the UGC sent circulars to over 4,000 colleges to establish cells that would educate students on sexual harassment on campus. According to UGC sources, such sensitisation programmes were launched in 2003 but intensified after 2012.
The central body had also asked colleges to furnish details on their policies to deal with sexual harassment cases, including the time taken to address each complaint.
However, officials said hardly 10 colleges in the State had been sending regular updates. Also, there has been very little response from the private engineering colleges in the State, which boast of enrolling over a lakh female students every year. “If the colleges provide us with the data, we can identify the inadequacies in existing procedures and formulate better measures to address the concerns of female students and staff members,” a senior UGC official said.
Heads of government colleges say with most of them facing shortage of teachers, there are not enough resources left to form such cells. “There is a vacancy of over 6,000 teachers in government and government-aided colleges. Hence, instead of running a permanent body, we form an expert panel as and when the need arises,” said R. Natarajan, principal of a government-aided college here.
Veena Sastri, a consultant-counsellor for city-based colleges, says most anti-ragging committees and women’s development cells that are supposed to be functional throughout the year are active only in the initial few months. “Most of the time, we let go off the issue as it is impossible to fill the posts,” said S. Mohana, a student of a college here.
To increase sensitivity among students about the increasing number of crimes against women, the department of politics and public administration, University of Madras, along with AIMSS (All india Mahila Sanskritik Sangathan), AIDYO (All India Democratic Youth Organisation) and AIDSO (All India Democratic Students Organisation) organised a convention, ‘Stop Crimes against Women’, on Monday.
John Dhanraj, documentary filmmaker, Kavitha Muralidharan, journalist, The Hindu (Tamil), Jyothi, a student, V. Sumathi, State secretary, AIMSS, Rajendran, State secretary, AIDYO, and M.J. Voltaire, State secretary, AIDSO spoke at the event.