sexual abuse


TW// Sexual harassment & casteism

After a gap of three years, the Delhi University campuses have been covered in the hues of Student Union Elections. However, the true face of these elections may be found beneath the democratic facade. While money and power are the most addressed sides of this dark coin, there is another side that frequently gets overlooked: caste politics and gender-based violence.

 The Delhi University Student Union (DUSU) Elections are being held after a gap of three years because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Pamphlets, roads covered with paper cut-outs, banners, posters, fights, and long traffic jams marked the beginning of the campaign of various student union organisations across campuses at DU. From the north campus to the south campus and off-campus colleges, every college at the University of Delhi is draped in the colours of elections. However, what lurks behind these hues is a mix of democracy and oppression.

Hundreds of posters, thousands of paper cut-outs all over the streets, and rallies of black and white cars tossing the same paper cut-outs you’re walking on speak volumes about how democratic and accessible the DUSU elections are. However, beyond these money and power dynamics lies the worst face of the DUSU elections: an open breeding ground for sexual harassment and casteism.

It is difficult to distinguish the inappropriate advantage taken of such packed surroundings at large-scale rallies with hundreds of party workers yelling slogans and the names of their candidates. Whether it’s a kind but unwelcome handshake or being unexpectedly touched in a throng or a bunch of guys gazing at every woman moving by, footage of mobs of men forcibly entering women’s colleges appears all over the internet every year. The fact that there are no proper caps on crowd control or codes of conduct gives these people the pass to repeat it again and again.

I have witnessed sexual harassment take place during election events. As soon as it gets crowded and people start getting pushed around, they start touching you everywhere. The language they use makes us feel disgusted. Right now, a person approached us and said: ‘Kya laundiya khadi kar rakhi hain’ (What women have they made stand here). We are also students, so what is wrong with us supporting any party just because we are women? The opposition, especially, really tries to make us feel uncomfortable as a part of their own political agenda.

– Two female party supporters in an interview to Newslaundry

 Students find it difficult to speak out about sexual harassment on campus due to the rising degree of fear culture established by these mobs of men. This year, too, hordes of ABVP members forcibly entered Miranda House’s campus twice.

When any left-wing organisation stages a tiny protest, massive police forces are deployed. They are sometimes detained for “disturbing the peace on campus. However, in incidents like these, where ABVP men forcibly entered the campus of a women’s college twice, there will be no police deployment or action, even after complaints.

-A student from the women’s college of DU 

Apart from toxic masculinity and a free pass for sexual harassment, caste-based violence is also common during elections. These elections are dominated by Jats and Gujjars. Every DUSU president from 2011 to 2017 was either Jat or Gujjar. These two communities dominate not just the president but the whole panel. Voting in the name of caste is also very common.

TW// Casteism

I heard my classmates say, ‘Ye AISA waale SC/ST ke chapri logo ki toli hai, isko kon vote dega’ (AISA is a group of people from the SC/ST community, who’s going to vote for them).

– A third-year BSc. student

 Vote appeals based on caste are fairly prevalent. Even upper-caste voters say it would be a disgrace if a lower-caste person won the election. In 2018, the Delhi Police released an advisory urging students not to vote based on caste. They warned candidates who appealed for votes based on their caste.

The larger question is whether left-wing politics, which is more issue-centric and nuanced in its narrative, is putting pressure on bigger parties to reform themselves. The pinjra tod campaign that seeks to make hostel and paying guest accommodation regulations less regressive and restrictive for women students is refreshing to see. In the past year, we can see a change in the way the NSUI has conducted itself, and this could have been an influence of left-leaning groups like the All India Students’ Association (AISA).

-Apoorvanand, professor at the Department of Hindi, University of Delhi in an article by Firstpost (2018)

The present DUSU elections have their foundation on four pillars: money, muscle, masculinity, and caste. The lack of a strict code of conduct and the administration’s inability to maintain a check on hooliganism give these individuals a free pass to do such things again and again. Whether it’s blocking traffic for their campaign, forcibly entering women’s colleges, or instilling terror in caste and gender minorities.

A safe, free, and fair election is often demanded. While most students would want to remain bystanders to the drama of these elections, such a stage is unachievable. Unification is required to bring about a complete transformation in the electoral process. Until then, the DUSU elections will be viewed as a reflection of the greater electoral landscape rather than a democratic practice.


Featured Image Credits: The Hindu

Read Also: Power and Politics in the Delhi University Students’ Union


Dhruv Bhati

[email protected]


India is a country with a population of 133 crore. In this population, 39% constitutes children; out of which, 29% are children between the ages of 0 to 5 years.  Amidst this demography, one child is sexually abused every fifteen minutes! These numbers and facts are the lived experiences of children in the country.

Child sexual abuse can be defined as the act of someone using a child for their sexual gratification. Sexual abuse can happen with or without physical contact. Someone touching a child’s private parts with sexual intent, a child being exposed to someone’s genitals, forcing a child to have sexual intercourse, making a child watch something sexual online or offline, in person or virtually, all comes under this offence.

Any act of child sexual abuse is heinous and produces grave psychological, social and physical impact on the child. In many instances, the child is traumatized for months, years or even a lifetime.  Added to this, a child’s self-expression and confidence may be curbed, their behavior may exhibit extremes – either completely withdrawn from the social circle or displaying aggression and violence. In some instances, the children may themselves become a perpetrator of the same. The conventional ideas of ‘morality’ in society blame the child for having faced abuse, or simply brush it under the carpet. Hundreds of cases of child abuse are left unreported, due to these notions, thus leaving the perpetrator free.

With the mission to uproot and eradicate this menace from society, in April 2018, Parwarish Cares Foundation launched its powerful campaign- AAO BAAT KAREIN. The campaign has already reached more than 45,000 children in the age group of 3- 17 years, and 5000 caregivers (teachers, counselors, parents, social workers). It has been running across schools and organizations, covering 31 cities in its mission, through workshops on sexual literacy- body science, puberty, adolescence, and the awareness and action to eradicate sexual abuse.


Session in Progress
Session in Progress

Parwarish has taken this campaign to schools (both private and government) shelter homes, NGOs, slums, vocational centers, and public spaces. These include Smile Foundation, Cheshire Home, leading newspaper-Dainik Jagran,  Uboontu foundation, Om Foundation, Saksham Foundation, Jamghat, Bal Shiksha Kendra, Navjyoti Trust, Shri Ratanlal Foundation, Shine Foundation, Prayas, Max Vision Foundation, Bal Shiksha Kendra, Udayan Trust, Sharamjeevi, Shri Ratanlal Foundation, and many more.

Parwarish Cares Foundation
Parwarish Cares Foundation


In a new attempt, Parwarish has transformed the content of this session in the form of a Street Play that would be taken to more such spaces to spread awareness to more and more children.

With every session conducted by trained facilitators from the organization, the campaign empowers children to objectively look at and identify the prevalence of sexual abuse in the country and their own lives. The children also recognize a safe space with the Parwarish facilitators as they talk about their lived experiences of abuse of this form in one to one conversations. These sessions have also empowered children to practice ways to deal with any situation of sexual abuse – endowing them with the power of ‘NO’. Similarly, caregivers have expressed willingness to dialogue about sex, sexual health and the prevalence of sexual abuse with children to ensure they are well informed and there are safe spaces all around. Organizations and schools have also aligned themselves with the objective of sensitization of children, adolescents, and adults as a part of the mission to eradicate sexual abuse, beginning with the need to remove the stigma and taboo that comes with the idea of talking about sex and sexual abuse.

The Power of No
The Power of No

Join hands with us to create a safer country with empowered children. For more updates, you can visit www.parwarishcares.org or take a look at our facebook page.


Media Partner:











DU Beat: An Independent Student Newspaper