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Viral sex harass post at GNLU prompts 2nd student to come forward, file complaint vs staff member

More MeToo moments at NLUs
More MeToo moments at NLUs

GNLU Gandhinagar is investigating two sexual harassment complaints filed by two female students: one against another male student of the law school and another against a male staff member.

According to sources in GNLU, one complaint had been filed with the ICC yesterday by a student relating to the behavior of a member of staff because allegedly the staff member had over the course of a year made recurring sexual remarks making her uncomfortable, persistently tried to contact her on social media and singled her out on campus, abusing his role.

The complainant against the staff member is understood to have come forward in part encouraged by the reactions to another GNLU student who had posted on Facebook three days earlier about her “friend who was subjected to behavior that made her feel violated at the hands of a male batch mate”.

GNLU has now constituted its ad hoc internal complaints committee (ICC) to probe the two cases.

The complaints were forwarded to the ICC through GNLU registrar Dr Thomas Mathew who told us yesterday evening: “The committee has already been constituted.

“Now what is the procedure let the committee decide. The committee tries to wind it up as soon as possible in all cases. Depending on evidences and circumstances [the time taken] may vary.”

The GNLU student on Facebook had made another comment, related to her initial post, on her Facebook profile on Sunday that:

The Registrar called up the complainant’s parents without informing her in the morning and has asked them to come down immediately to the college so that the parents of both the parties can meet

and

On asking him whether there was a written rule that requires a mandatory meeting between the parents of the parties, the Registrar said that there is no written rule but they prefer that they meet. On further informing him that the complainant is an adult and can take her own decisions and has taken the consent of her parents to deal with it herself still the registrar said he wants a meeting between the parents even if it happens after a week.

Mathew told us yesterday that he was only following university practice in calling the parents.

He commented: “The practice of the university is whenever sexual harassment is there it is the duty to inform the parents. It is a moral duty because parents have faith on the university. They may say that why you didn’t even inform us.”

The victim’s parents have not yet been able to visit GNLU for this meeting yet.

“The thing is the parents will be coming. They are also concerned about the wards. The only thing is time may vary,” explained Mathew.

Against student-accused

According to the Facebook post, the alleged student harasser, who had been named in the post:

This person holds a position of influence in one of the committees of GNLU. Under the garb of summoning my friend for work, he called her to the committee room in the Admin block at an ungodly hour. This was not the first time he had done this. He had repeatedly expressed disappointment at the fact that she declined to join him for work that could be done from her room, and implied that she was an irresponsible member failing at committee work because of her laziness.

After days of being pestered about alleged irresponsibility, she fell prey to the pressure and went to the committee room on the said occasion. He insisted that they sit on the couch than on the chairs. Wary of the perversities of his character, she carefully placed a laptop between them, which he picked up and kept on her lap. A few minutes later, he reached over and touched her thigh, making a lewd remark at the same time.

She was terrified. But she was far more scared of confronting him and the consequences that might entail. In that prolonged moment of terror, a hundred thoughts went through her mind, most of them about how confrontation would lead to an all-out war, and that there might be people who will not believe her, people who will discuss her, and people who will attack her.

She was sick at the time and pretended to be dizzy from her medication and kept pushing him away saying that she was feeling sick and requesting him to stay away. She was so strongly gripped by the awareness of a backlash to anything she might say or do to resist him at the moment, that she didn’t dare be curt in her resistance. She was terrified to let him know that she felt furious and violated. The pervert kept trying to touch her until she finally pushed him away one last time. He realised that she wasn’t going to give in and got furious. He asked her to leave and said that he would call other members to do the work. She ran out.

When she asked the members he had mentioned if they were called for work, they said that they never were. She came to talk to me and shared her disgust. I realized that she needed time to deal with her fear and disgust before I could persuade her to speak up about this.

It is understood from several sources in GNLU that the accused male student in this case has since resigned from his place on the committee which the post mentions.

He was not reachable for comment.

Reports (if not necessarily incidences) of sexual harassment on law school campuses have been increasing. NLSIU Bangalore has been in the middle of continuing controversy over two of its most recent sexual harassment complaint, for instance.

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