Constitute internal complaints committees: Higher Education department directs colleges in Odisha

This is the second such directive as far as sexual harassment in educational institutes is concerned in the last one year.
For representational purpose (File Photo | A Sanesh, EPS)
For representational purpose (File Photo | A Sanesh, EPS)

BHUBANESWAR: Amid complaints of sexual harassment on campuses, the Higher Education department has directed all degree colleges and teacher education institutes to constitute internal complaints committees (ICCs).

The directive came following the filing of sexual harassment cases by girl students of two private colleges in the Janasunani portal of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO). The complaints have been forwarded to the department.

There are a total of 1,041 degree colleges in the state of which 49 are run by the government. The rest are private aided and unaided colleges. While almost all government degree colleges have ICCs, there are over 300 unaided private ones that do not have autonomous ICCs.

This is despite the fact that the University Grants Commission mandates the formation of such committees under the Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions Regulations Act, 2015. It also mandates the ICCs shall remain functional round-the-year.

Stating in the absence of ICCs, victims of sexual harassment in educational institutions are reporting such cases directly to the state government, the department on Thursday directed the institutions to constitute ICCs within the next fortnight.

This is the second such directive as far as sexual harassment in educational institutes is concerned in the last one year. Earlier in January this year, the National Commission for Women had asked the state government to form committees at district level to receive complaints of sexual harassment for establishments and educational institutions where are there no ICCs.

Concerned over sexual harassment cases being reported from coaching and educational institutions, the NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma had urged the chief secretary to ensure strict implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 on campuses and direct all coaching centres to prevent sexual harassment of girl students either by male teachers or students.

This directive had come following the Binayak Acharya government college, Berhampur, an incident where a girl student was ragged and sexually harassed by her seniors on the campus.

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