A sexual harassment incident can leave an individual scarred for their entire life. The least that could be done is to identify the accused and bring justice, something the ICC of DU works towards. However, it is often found missing when horrific incidents come forward. Why is the ICC dormant when it is most needed? Read for more.

Basking in the morning sun while discovering the Delhi Metro and the joy of stepping into the college corridors brings a feeling of accomplishment. A transition from school to college brings with it a million sacred dreams that can’t wait to be unraveled. Somewhere it becomes the duty of the institution to protect those dreams and let the innocence cherish the moment in hand. However, a question of safety and security is a product of oblivion of these dreams.

Living in a city like Delhi, people – especially women – do fear about their safety and security. Yet, they sleep at nights dreaming about the endless things they can do and achieve. Their dreams are not hindered by the question of safety but as soon as the Sun comes out, it becomes too obvious to think about it before stepping ahead. Hence, university remains the only place to live those dreams carefree. However, what if even the university becomes the place putting a question mark on one’s safety and security. What if University becomes the place which we term as “unsafe”?

In the recent months, it has become too obvious that the university is not providing a safe space in this regard. From the incident of the Ramjas Debating Society to the scars of the festival of Holi, University of Delhi (DU) has put its DUites under the question of safety and security. It is true that as a woman we have to think about an endless list of things before stepping out of our residence. However, college is surely not the place where a student has to worry about these things but here we are, wrapped up in our thoughts of if going to a certain place will be safe for us?

Read Also: St Stephen’s Displacement Causes Problems for Students

A question of safety will always be present at the back of our minds but if a mechanism comes into place which redresses our concerns in regards to harassment then a sense of security can blanket the students and teachers of the varsity. One such committee is the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) which addresses the grievances of students and teachers in regards to any form of sexual harassment. Now, the mechanism seems pleasing since the committee is present in most of the colleges and societies apart from a centralized committee of the varsity. The question arises when we take a look at its functioning.

When a Ramjas Debating society’s member was stripped off his credentials for alleged harassment or a student of DU had to face sexual harassment, where was the ICC at those times? Isn’t it the duty of ICC to keep the varsity a place free of harassment? Aren’t they responsible to spread awareness regarding the same? Where was it when such heinous crimes were unraveling themselves? There is an endless list of questions that need to be asked and answered for the scope of improvement of the safety and security of the campus.

Read Also: Silencing Sexual Harassment: How DU Silences its Survivors

In conversation with DU Beat, a member of the ICC explained the functioning of the committee in DU. The member explained that the ICC expects the complainant to come forward or directly come to the office and give the committee a written complaint. Once the complaint reaches, it is taken up in a meeting. If the entire committee agrees on the authenticity of the complaint and if it falls under the jurisdiction of ICC then the complaint is taken forward. As this is the final step where the complainant can withdraw their complaint, the ICC asks them if they want to pursue it or not. Once the ICC gets their consensus, they are asked for 6 copies (as recommended by law) of the complaint. Then, as the ICC is law bounded with an external legal advisor, they send the whole complaint to the respondent, without censoring anything, and give them a 10 days period to submit their clarification or response to the complaint. After this, both the parties are called in a manner where they don’t see each other and individual hearings take place. Then, the ICC gives them a chance to call the witnesses which is followed by witness testimonies. At the end, the committee comes up with their findings and send them to both the parties involved. If nothing else comes up that could change the nature of the proceedings then the committee arrives at recommendations, and according to those, further actions are taken.

Since there are a lot of complaints at a given point of time and law has given us 90 days to resolve an issue, it generally takes 4-5 months to resolve a complaint.

Member of ICC, DU

Upon asking about the reason behind the recent jump in harassment cases in the academic space, the member stated that it could be attributed to the pandemic where people did not understand the consequences of the things they did behind their laptops and mobiles. Further, the member claimed that the varsity has a persistent issue of gender sensitization. For the part of ICC, as the member claimed, it is taking more and more steps to make people sensitized about the gender, to make students aware about what is right and what is wrong.

The harassment cases haven’t increased exponentially but they have increased, particularly in the cyber space.

Member of ICC, DU

Further the member added that there are certain guidelines issued by the ICC in regards to the recent trend of cases that are coming to the committee but it is difficult to enforce them at the grassroot level. Additionally, the member informed that the apex ICC has no jurisdiction over individual ICC of various colleges and hence cannot intervene in their matters. However, if the grievances of a student have not been resolved at the college level, they can directly write to the ICC of DU and then further steps can be taken in the case.

On asking about what if a particular ICC is not functioning properly, the member said, “I can’t comment on it but you can ask the Proctor of the University. There are other mechanisms to address the issues related to the functioning of ICC of a college.”

When the question about how the ICC intends to improve its functioning was popped before the member, they responded by stating their wish to include more members. However, as they stated, the law has bounded ICC to include only 10 members.

As the member said that the ICC’s duty is to deal with the sexual harassment cases and the problem of gender sensitization only then, who is there to keep a check if the guidelines are followed or if a subordinate ICC is functioning properly? Just as the High Courts have a superintendence over all the subordinate courts, who is there to supervise the subordinate ICCs? What happens if a sexual harassment case is shut down for all the wrong reasons? Who is there to keep a check on the functioning of the redressal mechanism?

Read Also: The Story of the ICC

Featured Image Credits: newslaundry

Ankita Baidya

[email protected]

 Bucket List (Class 9)
 Point No 3. Visit a brothel.

The fact that I never mentioned the reason to visit, goes in my favour today. Half of what was needed is achieved. The biggest red light area of the capital, Garstin Bastion Road (well known as GB Road), had an eighteen year old kid (adult?) paying a visit to what is also known as the ‘land of pink nipples’.

The fear to take up the challenge was always at the back of my mind. So visiting the area after 7pm, when the business there gets into its vibrant mode, was not an option.

12 Noon– New Delhi Metro station

The autowala gave the most indescribable look and winked at me, when I asked him, “Bhaiya, GB Road.” He tried to tell me that he would take me to the best kotha of the region. (I was wondering if it was kotha no 64, since that is famous). But I chose to walk. The weird part is that one would never know when ‘that area’ comes and passes you until and unless you see a fat lady in a red blouse looking out of a barred window from the first floor. She is probably the head of all those sex workers in there. Excited, I suddenly took out my camera and she shut the window.

I moved on. A place with worn out rickshaw pullers, disinterested shopkeepers and an unpleasant smell, it could only be famous for one thing. Suddenly someone patted me from behind. “Bhaisahab, khoye khoye lag rahe ho, 600 mein aapki umar ki, abhi.
He was a pimp. And here the illusion broke. The business goes on during the day-time as well, in those small low sheltered rooms above those local shops.

A little scared and a little surprised, I could not see any policeman nearby. “Do they not monitor the area?” I asked myself. “What a life these shopkeepers lead here! What a life!” – I thought and laughed. With this I saw a panwaala, who during our five minute conversation told me about what a newcomer (Yes, newcomer. I would consider going again.) like me never knew. I was asked to be aware of pimps and pickpockets. He told me about the plight of women (and girls) in there. Women are generally forced into this work. The kothawaalis (or prostitutes) are not allowed out of their kothas during the day time. They come down at night, only to take back a few costumers up those tightly structured stairs. There were certain obvious questions in my mind for the panwaala, but then it was my first time and I wanted to go back home fast.

To my relief I saw a police station right there. I asked the hawaldaar bhaiya there, “Bhaiya mujhe kisi kothe mein andar jaana hai. Kisi se baat karni hai. Unko jaan na hai.” But since then I am thinking about what he said. “Nikal lo beta. Yahan koi kisi ko ni jaanta. Randiyon ko koi nahi samajh sakta.

It is a place where world seems dead and these tavaifs are kept in dingy rooms only to be neglected (and used). They smile on their face, while signalling someone to come in, but they themselves want to come out of that place, I suppose. But some stories are untold.

While forming that bucket list, I wanted to know how these brothels work and the concept that this profession undertakes. But I also questioned myself, “Is paid sex actually unethical?” I honestly still wish to visit kotha number chausath(64). ((Oh, I forgot to tell you. I got 4 flying kisses, too).

With these thoughts I took the road back to the New Delhi Metro station. As I was walking, I saw a woman calling out to me silently while applying red lipstick on her lips. But this time, I didn’t take out my camera. I just smiled and left.

Nestled in the forested heart of India, the state of Madhya Pradesh contains a town that boasts of ancient symbols of piety and architectural splendor. The historical site of Khajuraho is known for its medieval Hindu and Jain temples, exquisitely carved with intricate sculptures. Contrary to modern India’s moral policing and Hawk-like monitoring of anything remotely sexual, these figurines are a testimony to the celebration of eroticism in the medieval times. With the sculptures depicting everyday activities of ordinary people, the display of sex without any censorship or bashfulness seems to be a world apart from the preaching of the wise and ageing censor board in today’s time. Our country is the world’s largest democracy, taking pride in its fundamental rights and its many sub-divisions. Yet, our freedom of expression is often taken away with the weak excuse of it being too inappropriate for our society.

If India could be described as a television, the remote control would be our rights and duties while the pouch potato should ideally be the citizens living in this country. However, with the current interpretation of our ancient scriptures, the citizens are forced to be the younger sibling who struggles to get his hands on that coveted remote, but fails miserably unless bribes are used. Instead, the pot-bellied individual who forms the government of this country monopolizes the remote, deciding what we get to watch. Couples strolling in a park or walking down a beach while holding hands are practically ripped apart by plump frustrated men wearing khaki uniforms, invariably out of breath in their attempts to capture the people committing such blasphemy. On the other hand, petty thieves are let go as long as they slip a few notes into that same floundering police officer’s pocket.

When one visits the delicately sculpted temples present in places like Khajuraho and the Konark temple in Orissa, what is looked down upon in today’s age was revered and used as an artistic inspiration in a period much older and seemingly backward than ours. Sensitivity should be maintained while showcasing such forms of art on an exceptionally public domain, as India is a country with numerous beliefs, but the extent to which censorship has been stretched is pathetic and often ridiculous. M.F.Hussain’s paintings being condemned as insulting Hindu sentiments by depicting goddesses in the nude seems ironic when his creations are compared to the sculptures in most ancient and medieval temples. Instead of appreciating art in the form that it is presented in, the critics decide to ban one of India’s talented gems due to his bold decision of choosing the divine as his muse. At the same time, songs like Chikni Chameli and Munni Badnam Hui are topping song charts despite their lewd lyrics and objectification of women, who don’t leave much to imagination in their next-to-nothing outfits.

The same people, who applaud the rich cultural background and history of this country when they visit such architectural wonders, get back to their thrones and continue living with a blindfold across their eyes. A majority of us wait for the day this rotten piece of cloth falls off and the reigns are handed over to maturity and reason.