The #MeToo movement started in October last year following allegations of sexual harassment against Hollywood producer published in The New York Times. Women responded in support from all over the world and shared similar stories along with #MeToo proving the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault. It wasn’t long before the hashtag stood for a revolution against sexual assault and sexual harassment. The campaign was a huge success giving women from all profession, nationality, and ethnicity the courage to share their stories of sexual harassment, raise their voice against it and proclaiming that enough is enough. Such courage was witnessed in the National Law University, Delhi (NLUD) when number of its students and alumni shared on Facebook their instances of sexual harassment by their male classmates and such in the past.
Several other students from the university stood up in support of the survivors who shared their experiences by issuing a statement.
This activity encouraged the university’s administration to look into the matter. As a response an inquiry has been initiated into the matter. Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ranbir Singh informed the students that preliminary measures had been taken to deal with sexual harassment on campus. They include mental health professionals with expertise in sexual violence being appointed and a number of faculty members being assigned for victims of sexual harassment to approach. . He assured that more permanent measures will be taken to handle such situations. The Vice-Chancellor also requested students to send in their suggestions on how to deal with instances of harassment on campus.
In his email which was sent to all batches, he stated-
“I have been made aware of the emerging accounts of sexual harassment within the NLUD community. Sexual harassment violates the most fundamental and cherished values that the University stands for. It also poses a serious challenge to our commitment to create an educational space and culture based on dignity, equal access, and mutual respect for all. I am therefore deeply concerned by these accounts and am taking the following measures as preliminary steps in responding institutionally to the issues that have arisen.”
The allegations made through Facebook posts are against a St. Stephens male student, chief adjudicator in the debating tournament and a NLUD male student who was part of the winning team in the tournament. Several female students of NLUD have come forward to share their ordeals of sexual harassment.
In the light of these allegations, St. Stephens College has blacklisted and banned all male participants from NLU Delhi for the 71st Mukarji Memorial Debate 2019, and the 7th ProAm Debate 2019.Both the accused men are blacklisted from the St. Stephens Debating Society Tournaments, in any capacity, henceforth.
The debating committee posted on their Facebook page – “We are deeply upset by, and believe we need to taNLUD,MeTooke action against, what seems like a culture of harassment and toxic masculinity in the Debating Society of National Law University, Delhi. Accordingly, we have decided that only women from NLUD would be provided the opportunities to debate and adjudicate at 71st Mukarji Memorial Debate 2019, and the 7th ProAm Debate 2019.”
On 3RD October Facebook page of NUJS, Kolkata named Diversity project shared a post in support of NLU, Delhi students who took to social media to share their stories of sexual harassment .The post was also shared by NLUD Facebook page called Gender Circle.
Excerpts from the post-
The Gender and Sexuality Forum stands in solidarity with the students of NLU Delhi, who have come out with their accounts of sexual harassment over the past few days.
These incidents are condemnable, and have continued unspoken of for far too long.
As a student body, which lends them the power and social capital required to do so, we must listen very carefully to the five (and counting) students of NLUD who have taken the step to hold them accountable. Perpetrators who are not held responsible will go on to hold further positions of power allowing them to continue to abuse this
power, a risk that is far too great to take.
Sadly this is not the first instance where National Law University has witnessed allegations of sexual harassment by students, faculty or staff. Last year in RMNLU, Lucknow campus witnessed widespread protest against sexual harassment in which students requested for judicial intervention. Similar Facebook post alleging sexual harassment was made by a female student of Gandhi Nagar NLU.
Chairperson, Reporter’s Committee- INBA