A year after the gruesome axe attack on a student by her classmate left the student community in shock, the gender sensitisation committee of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is using street plays and other new initiatives to ensure gender equity on the campus.
This year, the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) is focusing on gender sensitisation among students enrolled in the new academic session.
"One of our initiatives is to introduce GSCASH to new students. This was lacking in previous years when students were not aware of it and its functions," said Sonam Goyal, a PhD student and one of the student representatives of GSCASH.
The awareness drive includes street theatre acts usually presented in front of a small audience. These acts are mostly impromptu performances, Goyal said, adding performers invite narratives from the audience to make it more interactive.
Additionally, the committee has been organising sessions inviting speakers and counsellors, and engaging students through presentations and video clips which elucidate gender-based discrimination.
"To know what sexual harassment means, it is imperative to understand consent and violence in a relationship. Since, students here belong to diverse backgrounds, interactive sessions are being conducted," said Goyal.
Raising awareness about filing complaints related to sexual harassment has also become central to the committee. To file a sexual harassment complaint with GSCASH, a student is not required to visit the committee office but can file the complaint with any of the course faculty or the chairperson.
Once the complaint is filed, a formal enquiry is taken up with due confidentiality of both the complainant and against whom the complaint has been filed. "This time, we have been targeting a counsellor's panel which will act as a support system for complainants," Goyal said.
GSCASH, formed in 1999 following the Supreme Court guidelines on harassment at workplace, is a fifteen-member body comprising a chairperson, faculty members, student representatives. While two students are directly elected, one is nominated by Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union.
The committee has three main functions - gender sensitisation and orientation, crisis management and mediation, and formal enquiry and redressal.