Sunday, February 25, 2018
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ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad University recently ordered an inquiry after a female research scholar levelled charges of verbal accusation against her guide. Though the university has set up a three-member factfinding committee, the issue once again highlights the absence of Women Empowerment Board (WEB), the proposal for which was drafted two years back. 

In the absence of WEB, the female members, be it students, research scholars, teachers or employees of AU and its constituent colleges, are devoid of a cell which can address harassment cases. The WEB is still absent despite an ordinance of AU laying down the provision for such a cell. University's executive council (EC) too has also taken up the issue of formation of WEB, the constitution of which is ready. The EC had taken up the issue of formation of with some changes in the basic constitution proposed by a seven-member committee. 

The committee after refereeing to the sexual harassment cell of various universities like Mumbai, Delhi, Jamia Milia, and JNU had framed a final draft, said Prof Alka Agarwal. WEB has a proper representation of cross section of people from teachers to students, employees and representatives of the society too, said Prof Agarwal. WEB will have 17 elected members, including six women professors and an equal number of female students with representatives of research scholars, postgraduate and undergraduate students of AU. 

It will also have female representatives from class C and D employees apart from having a women activist and a female lawyer, specializing on women issues. The DSW and chief proctor will also be among the members, she added. Although WEB has not been named as sexual harassment cell, there is a separate cell within its ambit as would be several other cells depending on the nature of complaints. 

Moreover, there are provisions of mild to strict punishment for the culprits. In extreme cases, guilty students can be rusticated or denied degrees, while the guilty employees and faculty members could face suspension or termination from the service. But even as there have been cases, including the one being inquired by the three member committee, been reported at AU, women still await formation of a dedicated cell wherein they can raise their voices against those who indulge in harassing them. 

"It been almost seven years since AU got the status of a central university, but there is no cell or platform for female students, research scholars, employees and faculty members," said a woman faculty member of AU. AU public relation officer Prof P K Sahoo said, "Although WEB is still not formed at AU but varsity authorities are extremely sensitive towards the problems raised by the female gender at the campus and all such matters are addressed by the DSW". In the days to come, WEB would also be constituted at AU, he added. 

source:times of india

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