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Sexual Harassment of female students in Jamia Milia opens a can of worms

TCN News

Female students of Jamia Milia Islamia University have been protesting from February against the HoD of fine arts Professor Hafeez Ahamed for allegedly sexually harassing female students.

The professor, it is alleged, has been passing lewd remarks, sending unsolicited texts, interfering in the personal lives and sexually harassing the female students. This unwanted behaviour is not a recent phenomenon but has been going on from many years. And the girls have been silent for fear of criticism, not being believed and the backlash.  

Finally a few of the brave girls came out to speak up against the sexual behaviour and soon they were joined by many other students who have also faced sexual harassment at the hands of the professor.

But their protests have been disrupted by some of their male counterparts, who, it is believed are supporters of the HoD. It is alleged that these students are in support of Ahamed because he grants them favours and also extra marks.

Two of the girls were even physically assaulted by these aggressive supporters. One girl fainted when she got physically hurt while the other girl was groped in public.

The authorities seem to hace woken up after this attack and have suspended the 3 male students and sent the professor on a leave of 3 months.  

TwoCircles.net spoke to a few of the students of Jamila Milia Islamia who wish to remain anonymous.

The girls told TCN that there is neither a ICC (Internal complaints committee) nor GSCASH (Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment) in their campus. “If the University claims they have these mechanisms in place, it is just on paper because no one know where the ICC is or GSCASH is or who are in these committees and where to go to complain or whom to approach to talk about our grievances,” said one girl studying in 1st year of Fine arts.

“This type of incident happens in all the departments but till now no one has dared to talk about it in open though we discuss about it in our circles. Thanks to these torch bearers a can of worms has been opened. I am sure students from other departments will also open up and talk about the sexual harassment they have faced. There are many Hafeez Ahameds here,” said another student from a different department.

The protesting students of Jamia Islamia have been receiving statements of solidarity from all other universities across the nation from Hyderabad, Mumbai, Aligarh, Banaras, Amritsar and Delhi.

The girls also said that there is a complete silence on the part of the faculty including the female staff which is a very sad thing. Their demand for setting up GSCASH have always met with the excuse that the present VC is not permanent and a permanent VC ( Vice Chancellor) will soon be appointed and then GSCASH can be set up.

Since there is no students union in the university it is all the more difficult for them to voice their problems or place their demands.

But as of now, their protests, possibly inspired by the #MeToo Movement has gained solidarity from many other students and they are not going to cave in. The students demanded that the HoD Professor Hafeez Ahamed be fired from him position, set up a complaints committee and GSCASH; and take action against students who manhandled the protesting girls.