Sexual harassment in colleges is back in the spotlight after a Facebook post put up a crowd-sourced list of academics accused of the act. Here is a brief guide to existing mechanisms that deal with sexual harassment in colleges internally. (The guide was first published by edexlive.com)
Internal Complaints Committee
Every college is mandated to have an Internal Complaints Committee under UGC regulations, which consider these acts to be sexual harassment:
1.Any unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature,
2. Any demand or request for sexual favours
3. Making sexually coloured remarks, physical contacts or advances
4. Showing pornography
The victim should file a written complaint with the Committee within three months of being sexually harassed. If he or she was harassed repeatedly, then the complaint should be filed within three months of the last occurrence. (Related: Why we fail to report sexual harassment at work)
Delay in filing complaint
Often, the victim complains or speaks out years after the traumatic event. If he or she wants to file the complaint after the three months has passed, regulations require them to give a reason for the delay.
The Committee is supposed to forward the complaint to a Presiding Officer within three days and a notice should be sent to the person accused of sexual harassment within seven days. The regulations stipulate that the victim is offered a transfer or a leave of three months with pay.
If he or she wants to complain to the police, the Committee should help them with that as well.
What more can the Committee do?
It can take a range of actions if they find the accused person guilty after an investigation:
1.A written apology, warning, reprimand or censure
2.Withholding of promotion
3.Withholding of pay rise or increments
4.Undergoing a counselling session
5.Carrying out of community service
6.Terminating the respondent from service or any other punishment according to the service rules
Facing the harasser
Guidelines of the Committee state that the victim should not be asked to part of a process that might be painful to them. They also shouldn't have to face the person they have accused of harassing them.