Govt norms for dealing with abuse in institutions

Rules include inquiry, action on complaints against outsider

Govt norms for dealing with abuse in institutions
A woman facing sexual harassment during her visit on the campus of any higher educational institution as an “outsider” can also lodge a complaint with the institute administration for action.

The Human Resource Development (HRD) recently notified a new regulation for dealing with sexual harassment in the higher educational institutions, bringing the “non-employees and visitors” to these institutions also under the ambit of the regulations, besides their students, teachers and other staff.

It also provides for holding an inquiry and action on complaints of sexual harassment against an “outsider”.

The regulations, formulated by the University Grants Commission (UGC), have been made gender-neutral as it seeks from the higher educational institutions to “act decisively against all gender based violence perpetrated against employees and students of all sexes”.

The new regulations, however, emphasise that the institutions must recognise that “primarily” women employees and students and some male students and students of the third gender are vulnerable to many forms of sexual harassment and humiliation and exploitation.

“They shall apply to all higher educational institutions in India,” the ministry said in the gazette notification of the UGC (Prevention, prohibition and redressal of sexual harassment of women employees and students in higher educational institutions) Regulations, 2015.

The UGC has given an exhaustive description in its regulation on what would constitute to be a case for sexual harassment.

“An unwanted conduct with sexual undertones if it occurs or which is persistent and which demeans, humiliates or creates a hostile and intimidating environment or is calculated to induce submission by actual or threatened adverse consequences and includes any one or more or all of the unwelcome acts or behaviour stipulated,”it reads.

The regulations stipulate for a time-bound enquiry into each of the complaints. “The inquiry has to be completed within a period of 90 days from the receipt of the complaint. The inquiry report, with recommendations, if any, has to be submitted within ten days from the completion of the inquiry to the executive authority of the higher educational institutions,” it says.

A “campus” would include the location or the land on which a higher educational institution and its related institutional facilities like libraries, laboratories, lecture halls, residences, halls, toilets, student centres, hostels, dining halls, stadiums, parking areas and parks-like settings. Amenities like health centres, canteens, bank counters, would also come within the definition of campus.

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