One out of every four women studying at the University of Delhi and its affiliated colleges has been a victim of sexual harassment, according to a safety audit conducted by a student organisation.
The safety audit conducted by the student wing of the Congress, National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), covered 50 university departments and colleges. There are about 80 colleges affiliated to Delhi University.
According to the audit report, released on Thursday, 22 of the 50 departments/colleges flouted guidelines of the higher education regulator UGC by not electing student representatives democratically to their anti-sexual harassment panels — Internal Complaints Committees.
A field survey, as part of the audit, in 24 colleges spread across Delhi University and its colleges was conducted and a total of 810 students, of whom around 90 per cent were women and 10 per cent were men, responded to the queries.
“One in four students has reported sexual harassment. Out of the 188 cases of harassment faced by the respondents, there were as many as 40 cases of physical harassment. One in five cases of harassment was of touching or groping. Lewd gestures, staring, vulgar comments make up for the most rampant kind of harassment. Also, one in five cases of harassment concerned trolling on social media or harassment through calls or text/WhatsApp messages,” the report said.
Almost 80 per cent of student respondents attributed “unresponsiveness” of the university or college administration as a key reason for unsafe campuses, according to the report.
Not even half of the surveyed students were aware of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in their colleges and 70 per cent of the respondents stated that the names and contact details of the ICC members are not prominently displayed in their college, it said.
NSUI national in-charge Ruchi Gupta said, “Such audits will be conducted in other prominent universities across the country in the coming days. On May 1, there will be a march in Delhi University North Campus demanding steps for safety of women on the campus.”
Various recommendations suggested by the report include scrapping of ICC if found constituted without democratic election, awareness programmes regarding the committee, immediate crackdown on public drinking, installation of CCTV cameras and appointment of guards in all public buses.