For long, Delhi University’s Ordinance XV-D, the Anti-harassment Ordinance was one of the best campus-based policies to address sexual harassment amongst students. It was gender-neutral, which allowed not just women who were harassed by men but also men and people of alternative sexual and gender identities to seek justice from the authorities in the University. But the recent replacement of the Ordinance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 took away the act which protected queer students in DU.
At a time when alternative sexualities have again been made illegal in the country, the doing away with Ordinance XV-D has made the queer community within the University’s student body even more vulnerable to harassment. Not just people of alternative sexual and gender identity, no harassment case by the same sex will be considered a sexual offense but will have to be addressed through anti-ragging rules. This non-recognition of non-female survivors of sexual offenses is a big blow to the cause for a safer environment for students on the campus. What will be interesting to see is whether the new act covers trans-women too instead of only cis-women.
DU-based Gender Studies Group is planning on launching a campaign to address this change and will submit a petition to the Vice-Chancellor to either adopt an alternative act or to go back to the old one. Aapurv Jain from the group explains, “We are still in the process of forming the petition and we will keep people updated on this. What shocks us the most is the way they just replaced the ordinance without consulting any student body in the University.” The Gender Studies Group blog is regularly updated with news on this subject and other matters pertaining to gender and sexuality based issues on campus.
Image credits: Mugdha for DU Beat
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