UGC : Furnish details on sexual harassment

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New Delhi, Feb 15 : Waking up after the gangrape of a 23 year old student in Delhi, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked universities to 'provide information about complaints received about sexual harassment in campuses and whether they have a policy and procedure to deal with such cases.'

Last month a decision was taken to set up a task force on campuses to recommend measures to ensure the safety of women.

Vice- chancellors and principals will also have to furnish information on the ' institutional arrangements' used to address issues related to safety of women on campus. They have been given a deadline on March 4th to provide the same.

Some of the questions raised by the Commission include whether there are 'different timings for boys and girls hostel residents to return to their hostels.'

Last month when the decision to set- up a task force was taken, Prakash had written to institutions- "There is a need to ensure a safe working environment for women employees in the offices for their academic and professional responsibilities.The task force would like to visit campuses to interact with you and also students, faculty and staff to learn how best to facilitate and support that requires urgent and significant engagement to assess best practices and also take on board suggestions for the improvement of existing mechanisms of redressal."

While Delhi University has reported many such cases, IIT- Bombay had also reported a case on sexual harassment. In IIM-Bangalore too there is a case of sexual harassment.

In Bangalore, IT companies have been witnessing a rise in complaints on sexual harassment. Karnataka labour department has unofficially registered over 700 complaints last year. These complaints are from the IT and biotech sector.

In September last year, the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill was passed by the lower house of parliament which was intends at ensuring a 'safe environment for women working in both the public and private sector.'Under this bill, grievance committees to investigate all complaints

In IT companies, the guidelines in place include a committee which conducts inquiry based on complaints and recommends appropriate action. Some have external agencies which look into the matter. Many companies have specific time- frames within which the matter has to be looked into.

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