Educational institutions in Delhi have a serious sexual harassment problem.
The city has registered the highest number of sexual harassment complaints in colleges and universities, with even the prestigious St. Stephen’s College appearing on the list.
According to recently released government data, there were 27 complaints of sexual harassment at educational institutes in Delhi between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015. In all, 75 cases of sexual violence were reported at Indian colleges during the period.
Uttar Pradesh ranked second with 23 such cases, while seven were reported from Haryana, and six from Odisha.
Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Tripura followed with two incidents each, and Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Karnataka and Assam reported one each in the period.
The data was compiled by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on the basis of information from 84 universities.
Human resource development minister Smriti Irani shared the data in a written reply to a Lok Sabha question on whether there was a rise in sexual harassment cases of women lecturers, professors, and research scholars at the hands of academic heads of departments, professors and lecturers.
“UGC has reported that complaints have been received against the heads or members of faculties of Punjab University, Jadhavpur University, The Energy Resources Institute (TERI), and St. Stephen’s College, Delhi,” Irani said.
Complaints were also reported from the National Institute of Technology, Indira Gandhi National Open University, National University of Educational Planning and Administration, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, and Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat.
One such incident, involving one of the world’s most notable climate change experts, Rajendra K Pachauri, has been at the centre of heated debates in recent days.
In February this year, Pachauri was accused of sexually harassing a 29-year-old female researcher who worked at TERI in Delhi. While Pachauri maintained that the allegations were untrue, he resigned from his position as the chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change . Though he remained at the helm of TERI, a local court barred him from entering the premises during the investigation.
But last week a court allowed Pachauri to return to work at TERI as director general, as long as he stayed away from the head office and the institute’s office in Gurgaon, where the victim was transferred. This decision drew ire from all corners, with the victim herself telling the news network NDTV that Pachauri was “welcomed back to his office with garlands and flowers, while I am being shunted out of work.”
And last month, a PhD student at St. Stephen’s College lodged a police complaint against assistant professor Satish Kumar, 40, alleging that she was sexually assaulted by him. The victim said that the principal of the college tried to protect Kumar when the matter was reported to the institution.
In her written reply today (July 23), Irani said the UGC has issued an advisory for all educational institutions to have a separate committee to deal with issues of gender-based violence.