NSUI Safety Audit – One in every four women studying at Delhi University has faced sexual harassment,according to a safety audit conducted by National Students Union of India (NSUI).The safety audit conducted by NSUI covered 50 colleges of the University.
The key findings of the report were-
- High incidence of sexual harassment on or around campus, with 1 in 4 reporting sexual harassment.
- Almost 80% of the student respondents attributed unresponsiveness of the university/college administration as a key reason for unsafe campuses.
- Pervasive violations of UGC regulations for the prevention, prohibition and redressal of sexual harassment, 2015, in Delhi University.
- Not even half of the surveyed students were even aware of the Internal Complaints Committee, in their colleges.
- 22 colleges out of 50 colleges/departments surveyed flouted UGC guidelines to democratically elect student representatives to the ICC.
- 70% of the student respondents stated that the names and contact details of the ICC members are not prominently displayed in their college.
- Of the 810 students surveyed which included 736 female respondents, less than a third reported feeling safe while travelling in Delhi. About a third of the students felt unsafe even on the university campus. Although a majority felt safe inside their colleges, it is of concern that 7% of students do not feel safe even inside college premises.
- Out of the 188 incidentsof sexual harassment faced by the respondents, there were as many as 40 cases of physical harassment. It is distressing to note that one in five cases of harassment were 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 concernedtrolling on social media or harassment through calls or text/WhatsApp messages.
- Shockingly, the survey found that about one in four students enrolled in the nation’s leading university in the capital city have been victims of sexual harassment on or around the campus. It must be noted that 10% chose not to respond to this question indicating trauma or a sense of fear or shame in admitting to the harassment, they have been subjected to. It is dismaying that even after 5 years, post the gruesome rape and murder of Nirbhaya, the university and college administrations, the governments at the Centre and in Delhi have failed to ensure safe spaces for our students.
“Even after the letter was received, no nominations were opened up and nothing was put up on the notice boards about any kind of election for the formation of a sexual harassment redressal committee. On conducting an enquiry in the office, it was found out that an ICC has been formed already, without any elections or notice. The Committee was made inside the Principal’s office and no elections were ever held in the history of DR college. Even if an ICC exists, it is for the namesake and student union was made a part of it. No ICC with proper guidelines was ever constituted in Daulat Ram College.” – a Student from Daulat Ram College was quoted in the report.
The report concluded with the following recommendations-
- Zero tolerance policy against sexual harassment to be observed
- Proper implementation of UGC guidelines with regard to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC)
- ICCs constituted without democratic elections should be scrapped and elections held duly to take student representatives on board.
- Transparency in the composition of ICC and mandatory democratic elections of 3 students ( of which 2 should be female students), to the ICC. Quarterly report on functioning of the ICC, including complaints received, enquired into and action taken to be made publicly available.
- Awareness regarding Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), its mandate, to be generated in freshman orientation and names of ICC members, their contact details to be prominently displayed in colleges/university with immediate effect.
- Link college accreditation and rankings to ICC functioning and gender sensitization efforts undertaken.
- Training on gender parity to be made mandatory in freshman orientation and must include training (for males) on consent.
- Gender sensitivity training to be undertaken on a war footing for all students, teachers, police personnel and administrative staff in colleges.
- Immediately appoint well trained counselors, employed full time in colleges, and also, at the University level. Quarterly report to be taken from them on the number of students they counselled, and the kinds of grievances that was sought by students. Utmost care should be taken to prevent breach of student privacy.
- Start university special buses to ensure a safe, comfortable and affordable commute for students.
- UGC guidelines on self-defense classes to be implemented strictly. It has been observed that students do not find these classes helpful since they are imparted in a cursory manner and do not really equip them with self-defense techniques. The training should be relevant and be imparted with commitment.
- Street lighting to be installed in sensitive areas. This is of utmost importance for the safety of students in evening colleges.
- Clean toilet facilities across all colleges.
- Immediate crack down on public drinking.
- Installation of CCTV cameras in all DTC/public buses.
- Appoint guards in all DTC/public buses.
“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.” said Ruchi Gupta,National Incharge of NSUI.