India's University Grants Commission (UGC) has established new regulations which allow male students to file cases of sexual harassment against men, women and transgender people.
According to UGC’s “Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment” regulations, it's not only women and transgender people who are susceptible to sexual harassment. The regulations demand swift and decisive action against gender-based violence against employees and students of all sexes.
When one thinks of issues like domestic violence and sexual harassment, images of battered and traumatized women come to mind, but a large number of men are also subjected to such brutalities.
Statistics or accounts of these battered men are hard to find, but they do exist.
Making sexual harassment gender-neutral is a great step in every way.
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The regulations ask educational institutions to act decisively against gender-based violence targeting employees and students of all genders.
It all started when two male students filed a sexual harassment complaint against a senior teacher at Ramjas College, affiliated to Delhi University, in 2007.
The university amended its sexual harassment rules and started recognizing that male students can be sexually harassed too.
Some of the salient points of the UGC regulation are:
- It allows third-party complaints where relatives, friends, colleagues, co-students or any other associate of the victim can lodge a complaint on a victim’s behalf if the person cannot do so because of "physical or mental incapacity or death."
- All universities and colleges have been advised to follow the UGC regulations, failing to do would lead to penalties.
- Every educational institution must set up an internal committee to investigate complaints.
- The committee will have 90 days to complete investigations.
- The authorities will have 30 days to act following receipt of the report.
- Students found guilty can be dispelled whereas employees, including teachers, will face action under the service rules.
- False complaints will be punished.
- All institutions must spread awareness on the matter.
In a report titled “Measures for Ensuring the Safety of Women and Programmes for Gender Sensitization on Campuses,” UGC states, “The Sexual Harassment Act only addresses the issue of protection of women employees and is not gender neutral. Male employees, if subjected to sexual harassment, cannot claim protection or relief under the law. However, many guidelines against sexual harassment in universities have taken the next step to becoming gender plural. They recognize that men can be subjected to sexual harassment beyond ragging incidents, especially if they are identified as belonging to a sexual minority. Such cases also require all the efforts of educational, corrective and if necessary punitive responses through proper procedures.”