ICC should educate students on consequences of sexual harassment, says AU Vice-Chancellor

‘Not all women coming forward to lodge complaints as they fear threat to their family members’

Women have forayed into almost all sectors of human activity, including some professions, which were earlier considered as male bastions. Improved access to education and employment has enabled them to compete with men in all spheres, Andhra University Vice-Chancellor P.V.G.D. Prasad Reddy has said. He was speaking at the inaugural of a one-day training workshop for Members of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of AU and its affiliated colleges at the Platinum Jubilee Guest House of AU, here, on Monday.

The IT companies and pharma majors were employing a large number of women. Similarly, in the informal sector, like petrol bunks, also a good number of women were employed. There was a deluge of complaints, reported by women, against high profile and influential men, he said. Unfortunately, not all women were coming forward to lodge complaints as they fear threats or stigma that their family members would have to suffer, he said.

Prof. Prasad Reddy said that the ICC should educate both boys and girls on the consequences of sexual harassment. Boys should be made to understand that indulging in harassment could ruin their careers and girls should be told about their rights and reassured that the ICC would do justice to them. All students should be told that their focus should be on their goal, he said.

Prof. Prasad Reddy recalled that during his earlier tenure as Registrar, some years ago, he had seen some of his colleagues harassing research scholars and complained to the higher authorities. The Executive Council (EC) had failed to take action against the accused, he said.

He said, “Today, the State government has appointed five women to the nine-member EC. The council has recently dismissed one person accused in a sexual harassment case. Such stringent measures will deter others.”

A.P. Women’s Commission Chairperson Vasireddy Padma recalled that Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had expressed his displeasure at the functioning of ICCs at Women’s Day meeting on March 8, last year. Meetings were being held all over the State for sharing of opinions and exchange of ideas for strengthening of ICCs, she said.

‘Be sensitive’

She underlined the need for ICC members to be sensitive in assessing various complaints and abstain from dismissing every complaint as frivolous. “There is a thin line between good and bad and you should be able to distinguish and assess the complaints properly,” she said.

A.P. Women’s Commission Member Jayalakshmi, Commissioner Director Ravuri Suez, Director of Durgabai Deshmukh Centre for Women Studies of Andhra University P. Usha and ICDS Project Director Sitamahalakshmi were among those who spoke.

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