TNN | Jan 29, 2013,
VADODARA: Going by a recent survey conducted by nine students of M S University (MSU)’s faculty of law, it seems sexual harassment and gender sensitization are issues which the varsity would have to address sooner than later.

The survey conducted on 966 students (766 females and 200 males) is an eye-opener, according to Sahiyar, a women’s NGO, which has shot off a letter to the VC, forwarding some of the survey findings wherein 63% girls and 69% boys had a perception that girls were “not secure on the campus“. Worse, 24% girls and 19% boys “witnessed” sexual harassment within the campus, but none complained about it to any of the authorities.

Further, only 8% girls and barely 5% boys were aware of the existence of ‘women grievance redressal and counseling cell’ within MSU, but none of them was aware of its location.

The survey also recorded that 95% of girls and 92% boys felt that women needed some space or avenue where women’s grievances could be addressed.

“It is unfortunate that instead of taking positive steps to make the university free from sexual harassment and implement the judgment by the Supreme Court of India (Vishaka committee guidelines)…the authorities have taken regressive steps to put further restrictions on girl students by reducing the time for hostel girls,” the NGO wrote to the MSU VC, while seeking appointment to discuss the survey findings.

The complete survey report would be released after discussions with MSU authorities, they said.

When contacted, MSU registrar, Amit Dholakia said, he would not say much on the findings of the survey since he was yet to see the report.

“I am not saying the findings are baseless or incorrect, but surveys have their limitations or different methodologies. Also, I am not denying any reservations about perception of safety on the campus.”

He, however, admitted that the grievance cell had to be replaced by a committee to address complaints of sexual harassment. “We realize that a tighter mechanism for addressing women grievances is required, and that the counseling cell’s role is different from the committee which needs to be set up,” the registrar said, adding they would be setting up a committee “this week” to create a mechanism for setting up the committee, at both the varsity and at faculties’ level.