Anjali Gopalan, founder of the Naz Foundation Trust, addressed a Gender Sensitisation Programme at Delhi University. She highlighted the role of the Internal Complaint Committee in fostering inclusivity. Gopalan emphasised the need for uniform codes of conduct, backed by her experiences, urging for the unlearning of social norms and promoting equal rights for all.

The Naz Foundation (India) Trust on Friday, 22nd March, conducted a gender sensitisation seminar for members of the University of Delhi’s Internal Complaint Committee (ICC). The event took place at the Department of Botany, North Campus and also saw attendance by members of the current Delhi University Student Union.

Anjali Gopalan, the speaker of the event, established the Naz India in 1994 to develop sensitivity and address HIV/AIDS and sexuality. Naz india conducts awareness and support sessions for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as counselling and referral for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Ms Gopalan talked about the general nature of the ICC around the country and the role that they play in making the academic environment at various levels more inclusive and accepting to the gender diversity.

The ICC throughout the Delhi University Campuses and its different colleges do not have a uniform code of conduct. Due to this, while dealing with the gender-sensitive matters of discovering their identity and HIV-related discussions. The program hosted an insightful delivery by Ms Gopalan, where she talked about various delicate issues and answered questions like what to do to make the environment of the ICC more approachable, how the training of the personnel contributes to enhanced outcomes of the help provided along with the general nature of the change that has taken place throughout the years in the direction towards making gender-neutral safe places around the country.

Ms. Gopalan’s answers were backed by years of experiences advocating for and fighting for the queer community. She covered aspects ranging from adult social circles to primary school settings and the challenges they impose, preventing people from the LGBTQ+ community from exercising their rights. Some of the topics along which the discussion that followed centred around the unlearning and re-learning of rigid social norms, language and pronouns and the resistance they put against the suppression and the existing hostilities in the current environment that others everything that does not fit the conventional norms.

In conversation with DU Beat, while talking more on the subject matter, Ms Gopalan said:

I have been working for the awareness programs since 1987. It’s been an incredible journey in many ways for me it is a matter of rights, everything is about whether for an animal or for a human. I think everyone should have access to rights. To me, I am still amazed that even now people of the community in our country don’t have the same rights. I do not understand why and how can we as people deny our own people the rights that everyone takes for granted.”

Anjali Gopalan, Naz India

Ms. Gopalan’s impassioned advocacy for equal rights resonated deeply with attendees, serving as a powerful reminder of the ongoing journey towards equality. Naz India is now aiming at promoting this initiative in individual colleges’ ICCs as well.

As the event concluded, participants were inspired to continue engaging in open dialogue and striving for greater inclusivity within their respective academic environments. Ms Gopalan’s address stands as a testament to the enduring commitment to advocating for the rights of marginalised communities and building a society where everyone is valued and respected, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

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Divya Malhotra

[email protected]

With the recent news from Bharati College, where despite an official complaint being filed with the college’s ICC, justice wasn’t given, it becomes a meandering, harsh reality for us to accept that our university spaces might not be as safe as we assumed.

In February 2018, an official complaint
was filed with Bharati College’s ICC,
claiming that a student had been
sexually harassed by a teacher. Even
after eight months of waiting, a decision
has not come to light.
What’s worse is that this is not the first time this semester that such news has surfaced, example in quote being Ramjas College. During early September, the students of Ramjas College had circulated an online petition, expressing
their dissatisfaction with the college administration, which had indefinitely
delayed the ICC orientation for the first and second year students. A college’s Internal Complaints Committee intends to act at the core of a college’s sexual harassment-related issues. The committee has to be mandatorily formed in every college, and UGC norms also dictate that ICCs conduct regular sensitisation seminars to familiarise students with all the information they need to know. However, even after this being mandated, barring a few colleges, such sessions are not organised as frequently as they ought to be. A gender sensitisation event being organised by the college administration and not by students from the college’s WDC or Gender Studies Forum, often raises eyebrows because of its once in a blue moon nature. Many University students do not fully understand what constitutes harassment, and because of lack of suchn necessarysensitisation sessions, they discount the survivor’s account if it does not fall under their restricted purview of
harassment or molestation.
Adding on to this, during 2017, many news reports covered the lack of democratisation in the election process, like in Daulat Ram College, where a notice with names of numbers of ICC members was put up without any prior election-related news being given to students. In November 2017, Miranda House became the first college in DU to have successfully elected ICC student representatives.
Pinjra Tod, a students’ collective, pushed
the authorities to make elections more inclusive for all, allowing nominees from all years to file in their names alongside giving them adequate time to do so. ICCs, earlier known as CCCs, have been around the university space in scattered locations since almost 10 years. Since then, only in February this year, DU mandated all colleges to conduct proper ICC elections for its student representatives. The aftermath of elections in most colleges is unknown to most college students, and it remains to be seen if the student representatives are equipped with the required legal training to pursue serious cases with ease, and whether their word is given equal footing as that of others.
Even if the ICCs are functioning as per UGC norms, a number of structural drawbacks affect its functioning up to its full capacity. The most cited drawback
is that of the removal of ordinance 15D which ensures that the committee was independent of individuals who possessed considerable executive authority. Lack of awareness amongst students, few to nil posters which contain the contact numbers of ICC members, and non-establishment of a complaints box are a few but pressing concerns that most colleges face at the moment.
Amidst the climate of #MeToo, it’s a top priority that the administration reinforces the students’ faith in educational spaces and that the students and faculty raise their voices of dissent if
they observe problematic practices. After shocking incidents of ‘due process’ failing its students emerging from leading Indian universities like TISS and BHU, an urgent re-evaluation is
the need of the hour.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Vijeata Balani
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Rajib Ray, the President of Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), on behalf of DUTA has written to the Vice-Chancellor of the University on 17th April expressing concern over the recent sexual harassment cases that have come to light.

The letter stated various violations by the colleges. It has been observed that the accused is often a person of authority and is successful in intimidating and silencing the complainants and witnesses. Despite this, stern action is not taken against the accused which raises doubts about the inquiry committee and process. A number of colleges/departments have flouted the University Grants Commission’s guideline for conducting student elections for the Internal Complaints Committee. In cases where reports have been submitted to the Apex Committee, the recommendations have not been placed before the Executive Council for implementation. The other cases have not been pursued in a time-bound manner leading to the subversion of justice and redressal.

It has also been articulated that women students and employees continue to face sexual harassment. The DUTA President has urged the Vice-Chancellor to take the cases from Department of Chemistry and African Studies, Swami Shraddhanand College, Bharti College, Daulat Ram College, and College of Vocational Studies seriously.

In conversation with DU Beat, Abha Deb Habib, an active member of DUTA added, a University with 1.5 lakh students in regular courses and over four lakh students in SOL (School of Open Learning) has to provide a safe environment for women students, which means that there cannot be any kind of laxity in handling cases of sexual harassment. With a large number of outstation students, it becomes even more crucial to provide them safety. It is unfortunate to see that in the Chemistry Department case, the Head was not removed while the inquiry was taking place against him on charges of sexual harassment. A system of fair and time-bound inquiry is a must if we wish to curb this social problem and empower our women students.


Feature Image Credits: Counter Currents
Prachi Mehra
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