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Varsity lax about issue of women's safety in colleges

On Friday, MiD DAY had highlighted the sorry state of affairs at the famed SP College (‘SP college turns into haven for goons as female students, teachers face frequent harassment’), where harassment and vulgar comments have become a common occurrence for the womenfolk. Now, it emerges that the problem is not relegated to one institute. That’s because the administration of University of Pune (UoP) is unaware about what its affiliated colleges are doing to ensure safety and security of women.


Off the mark: As a nodal agency, UoP is responsible for implementing the guidelines of UGC in all 575 affiliated colleges, but has failed miserably on this front. 

Even though it is mandatory for every college to form a special cell for female students to address complaints of harassment and abuse, the varsity has no data about how many colleges have these cells functioning effectively.


MiD DAY’s report on Friday. File Pic

When MiD DAY contacted UoP’s Board of College and University Development (BCUD) Director Dr V B Gaikwad, who is supposed to supervise implementation of various schemes and policies in affiliated colleges, he said, “My department does not have data regarding these cells. You may get information from Students Welfare Department (SWD).”

However, the SWD wasn’t cognisant of the situation either.
In the backdrop of the Delhi gang-rape incident last December, University Grants Commission (UGC) had come up with a drive at the beginning of this year to review existing arrangements at colleges and higher education institutions to guarantee safety of female students on campus.

The review is part of the commission’s latest initiative of setting up a ‘Task Force’ to recommend measures for gender sensitisation on campuses across the country. As a nodal agency, UoP is responsible for implementing the guidelines of UGC in all 575 affiliated colleges. But, the varsity administration has failed miserably on this front.

“Yes, I am aware of the UGC directives,” said Gaikwad. However, he was not able to give details of compliance by colleges.

The silver lining
Interestingly, just one dept of UoP -- Women’s Studies Centre (WSC), whose domain is women-related issues -- is aware of what methods colleges should adopt to ensure safety of female students on campus, and the ground reality. “Many affiliated colleges have formed the cells to look after harassment complaints filed by girls. However, the main drawback is that these cells are not proactive. Many a time they initiate action only if a female student dares to come forward and file a complaint. Ideally, it is expected of these cells to also spread awareness on campus and play an effective role in dealing with all issues related to women’s safety,” said a faculty member of WSC. WSC has plans to do an extensive survey of UoP-affiliated colleges to judge the functioning of the cells.  “The schedule has not been fixed yet, but in the present academic year itself we will initiate the survey, through which we expect to determine the real situation and what extra efforts are needed in this field,” the WSC member added.   

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