Dr. S.M. Sharma
Principal, Dewan Law College
“They want me to go to college to make the statement, but I fear for my safety. I haven't gone to college since the incident. Everyone is against me, the students, the teachers and the entire administration.”
Yesterday, Umam Khanam, a student of Dewan Law College, spoke up against sexual harassment from her classmates on a recent college trip.
She has since been suspended from college and is being pressurized by the administration to retract her complaint.
This is an outright violation of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act (POSH, 2013) which mandates a formal investigation be made into sexual harassment cases, and the identity of the complainant be protected. We cannot stay silent -- we must ensure that due process is followed at Dewan Law College.
Umam took to Twitter to share details of her harassment and has since been heavily trolled. It is unfair for a complainant to have to go through this kind of character assassination, instead of being reassured that her complaint will be taken seriously.
There is a reason we have the POSH -- to ensure that women who face any kind of sexual harassment are able to access redressal in an efficient manner that protects their dignity and privacy.
Being a law college, it is outrageous that Dewan Law College authorities have suspended the complainant instead of following the law. Ask them to initiate an independent investigation at the earliest.
We have seen public pressure work in the past! If enough of us rally our support behind Umam, we will be able to convince Dewan Law College that the only way to deal with sexual harassment is to have zero tolerance and take swift action.
Let’s not waste this opportunity to ensure our college campuses are safe learning spaces for women.