Gender Sensitization

1 Background

a) Sexual harassment has come to be widely condemned as a form of human rights violation, an infringement on life and liberty and a grave form of gender-based discrimination. Such behaviour is an affront to dignity, gender equality, and fundamental rights. 

b) Sexual harassment is contrary to anti-discrimination provisions in the Constitution of India:  Article 15: “Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth” and Article 19(1) (g): Right to Freedom which upholds a woman’s right “to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business”. 
 
c) Sexual Harassment is an offence under The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 No. 14 of 2013.  Section 3(1): No woman shall be subjected to sexual harassment at any workplace.” Section 19 Every employer shall- (a): provide a safe working environment at the workplace which shall include safety from the persons coming into contact at the workplace.  Section 4(1): Every employer of a workplace shall, by an order in writing, constitute a Committee to be known as the “Internal Complaints Committee”.
 
The Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgment in August 1997 (Vishaka & others vs. the State of Rajasthan & others) stated that every instance of sexual harassment is a violation of “Fundamental Rights” under Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Constitution of India, and amounts to a violation of the “Right to Freedom” under Article 19 (1)(g). The Supreme Court further reiterated that sexual harassment “is a violation of the fundamental right to gender equality and the right to life and liberty”. Another Supreme Court Judgment in January 1999 (Apparel Export Promotion Council vs. Chopra) has stated that sexually harassing behaviour “needs to be eliminated as there is no compromise on such violations”. 
    
d) Educational institutions are bound by the same Act (Section 2(o)”workplace” includes- . .  (ii) any private sector organisation or a private venture, undertaking, enterprise, institution, establishment, society, trust, non-governmental organisation, unit or service provider carrying on commercial, professional, vocational, educational…. distribution or service.”)  Following this, O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) is committed to uphold the Constitutional mandate ensuring the above mentioned human rights of all those who fall within its jurisdiction. It is with this objective that these Rules have been framed. 
 
2 Objectives and Scope of the Rules on Gender Sensitisation against Sexual Harassment.
 
a)These Rules reiterate the commitment of JGU to creating and maintaining a community in which students, teachers, researchers, faculty members and non-teaching staff can work together in an environment free of all forms of sexual harassment. 
 
b) In framing the rules and procedures laid down in these Rules, the spirit of The Sexual Harassment of Women At Workplace Act 2013, and the Supreme Court judgments mentioned in the background section have been followed; however, the rules and procedures cover a wider spectrum of sexual harassment and deal with issues in consonance with the requirements of an academic institution.
 
c) These Rules and Procedures apply to all students, academic staff, faculty members, and non-teaching staff on the active rolls of JGU, the Officers of JGU, the members of the Authorities and Committees of JGU as well as to service providers and outsiders who may be within the territory of JGU at the time of commission of the act/behaviour coming under the purview of these Rules. 
 
d) These Rules would not only apply inside the campus but also on off-campus official duty (workshops, field work, group holidays/excursions organized by JGU, interviews/meetings with outside people and any other activity organized by JGU outside the campus including the period of traveling for such activity). 
 
e) In particular, these rules and procedures laid down shall be applicable to all complaints of sexual harassment made: 
 
i. By a student against a member of the academic or non-teaching staff or a co-student or the Officers of JGU, or the members of the Authorities and Committees of JGU; or by a member of the academic or non-teaching staff or the Officers of JGU, or the members of the Authorities and Committees of JGU against a student or another member of the academic or non-teaching staff; in either case, irrespective of whether sexual harassment is alleged to have taken place within or outside the campus. 
 
ii. By a service provider or an outsider against a student or a member of the academic or non-teaching staff or the Officers of JGU, or the members of the Authorities and Committees of JGU or by a student or a member of the academic or non-teaching staff or the Officers of JGU, or the members of the Authorities and Committees of JGU against an outsider or a service provider, if the sexual harassment is alleged to have taken place within the campus. 

f) In order to implement these Rules, a Committee on Gender Sensitisation against Sexual Harassment (COGSASH) shall be appointed whose composition and mandate will be as described below.

3 Definitions of Sexual Harassment and Gender Sensitisation

1.Sexual Harassment

a) Sexual Harassment in the given context, is described in The Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 in Paragraph 2(n) as: “sexual harassment” includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely:

i.   physical contacts and advances; or

ii.  a demand or request for sexual favours; or

iii. making sexually coloured remarks; or

iv.  showing pornography; or

v.   any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature;”

b) Within JGU the definition of the above applies equally to men and women and also includes harassment by a member of one sex to a member of the same sex. 

c) The key expression in the above definition is unwelcome which indicates the unwanted and non-consensual nature of the behaviour in question.

d) The explanation of Sexual Harassment shall include but will not be confined to the following:

e) Section 3(2): “The following circumstances, among other circumstances, if it occurs or is present in relation to or connected with any act or behaviour of sexual harassment may amount to sexual harassment:

 i.   Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment; or

 ii.  Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in employment; or

 iii. Implied or explicit threat about present or future employment status; or

 iv. Interference with work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment; or

 v.  Humiliating treatment likely to affect health or safety.”

And further to also include:

vi. Making unwelcome sexual advances, or requesting sexual favours, or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature explicitly or implicitly made as a term or condition for instruction, employment, participation or evaluation of a person's engagement in any activity related to JGU.

vii.  Unwelcome sexual advances or verbal, or non-verbal or physical conduct such as loaded comments, remarks, jokes, letters, phone calls, or e-mails, gestures, showing of pornography, lurid stares, physical contact or molestation, stalking, and sounds or display of a derogatory nature which have the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual's performance or of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive campus environment.

viii. Committing any form of sexual assault by a person using the body or any part of it or any object as an extension of the body in relation to another person without the latter's consent or against the person's will.

f) The overwhelmingly dominant form of sexual harassment is that perpetrated by men against women. However, sexual harassment could also be perpetrated by women against men or occur between persons of the same sex.

2. Gender Sensitisation

a) Gender Sensitisation involves creating awareness about gender issues and working towards and creating an enabling environment of gender justice where men and women can work together with a sense of personal security and dignity.

4 Complaints

(Note: This part presents only a summary of the procedure that will be followed. For detailed guidelines, please refer to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013)

1. Complaints Mechanism

Complaints Filing Process

a) Any student, service provider, outsider, or a member of the academic or non-teaching staff may lodge a complaint of sexual harassment against a student, service provider, outsider, or a member of the academic or non-teaching staff or an Officer of JGU, or a member of the Authorities or a Committee of JGU.

b) Complaints should be lodged by the concerned person directly with any member of COGSASH. Third party complaints and witness complaints shall not be entertained except in cases where the complainant has been forcibly prevented from making a complaint; in such cases a complaint can be made on her/his behalf until she/he can approach COGSASH.

c) Complaints may be oral or in writing. If the complaint is oral, it would be converted into a written form by the COGSASH member receiving the complaint and authenticated by the complainant under her/his dated signature or thumb impression as the case may be as soon as possible.  Complaints may also be received by email via the official shc@jgu.edu.in email address.

d) Details of the incident(s) of harassment, date, time, and place must be recorded.  Complaints must be filed within three months of the incident or of the most recent incident.

e) The history of who the complainant approached (family, friends, teachers etc) before making a formal complaint must also be recorded.

f) Upon receipt of the complaint, the COGSASH member to whom the complaint is made shall forward the same to the Complaints Screening Committee.
 

2. Manner in which complaints can be made:

a) Complaints should be lodged by the concerned person directly with any member of COGSASH.  Complaints may be received orally, by email or in writing. See above for further details.

b) If the complainant is unable to file a complaint themself the following will apply:

 i. First is where the victim is physically incapacitated from making a complaint, it can be made by someone on her/his behalf, which includes a friend or any person who knows of the incident and has the written authorization of the victim to make a complaint.

ii. Second, where the victim is mentally incapacitated from making a complaint someone can make the complaint on her/his behalf.

iii. Third, if the victim is unable to file a formal complaint, someone who knows of the incident can do so provided they have the written authorization of the victim to make the complaint.

iv. Fourth is when the victim has passed away, a person who knows of the incident may file a complaint if they have received the written authorization of the victim’s heirs.

3.      Procedure for inquiry:

a) One written copy of the complaint must be received (either in writing, by email or a transcript by a Committee member of an oral complaint).  A copy of the complaint  must be submitted with the details of witnesses to the Complaints Committee.

b) One copy has to be given to the respondent (person against whom a complaint has been filed) within 7 days from when the complaint was received.

c) Within 10 days of receiving a copy of the complaint and other accompanying documents, the respondent has to respond with documents and details of witnesses.

d) The Complaints Committee must adhere to the principles of natural justice when inquiring into a complaint.

e) The inquiry can be terminated, or proceeded with ex parte (when the respondent does not cooperate) if the party (either the complainant or respondent) does not present themselves for three consecutive hearings and no reasonable cause has been offered.

 i. Proviso: The termination of the inquiry or proceeding with the inquiry ex parte, as the case may be, may not be done without serving a written notice to the party in question. Such notice must be served at least 15 days before the relevant decision is to be made.

f) No lawyer is allowed to represent either party.

g) A minimum of three members are needed to conduct the inquiry, which must include the Chairperson.