With merely a couple of complaints received by the Panjab University sexual harassment committee this year, many have been wondering whether there are no instances of harassment or whether there is reluctance on the part of victims to approach the committee.
It is learnt that the committee has received only two complaints this year. One of the cases was registered by a girl student and the second by one of the staffers, working in an executive engineer office of the varsity.
However, the girl complainant had withdrew her complaint. The meeting of the committee to decide on the second complaint is scheduled for December 28.
The committee has received the second complaint after a gap of three months.
Talking to Chandigarh Newsline, Dean Student Welfare (DSW) (Women) Kalpana Mahajan said, “The committee is not getting many complaints. Whenever we get any complaint, we do follow proper guidelines to study the same and a hearing is given to both the parties before deciding on the issue.”
“Sometimes, complainants also step back. In such cases, the committee cannot do any thing. Moreover, according to preliminary information, the second complaint has more to do with workplace harassment. Things will get clearer in the meeting,” she added.
Mahajan said that information about the committee is present in the information hand book of the varsity.
However, girl students, when asked if they knew about the committee, said they are not aware about it. “We are not aware. Students hardly read the information hand book. Authorities should display posters etc. about the procedure to be followed to file a complaint in the sexual harassment committee,” opined Shweta, a varsity student.
Another student, Preeti, said that moreover, most of the time, girl students feel hesitant to file a complaint so authorities should also organize some motivational classes so that girls feel encouraged to lodge a complaint.
Three months ago, a girl student had filed a complaint. “We held a meeting, but when she and the boy, whom she blamed was called, the complainant said that she registered the complaint by mistake,” said DSW Prof A S Ahluwalia, one of the members of the committee.
Last year, the university had received only four of such complaints.