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JNU circular on counselling for sexual harassment puts burden on women to avoid it

JNU circular on counselling for sexual harassment puts burden on women to avoid it

New Delhi: A circular issued by the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at Jawaharlal Nehru University about counselling to raise awareness of sexual assault and harassment has raised ire over a passage in which critics say "victim shames" women and places the burden of preventing sexual assault on them.

The controversial passage states that girls are "supposed to know how to draw a tangible line between them and their male friends", which student outfits say is demeaning to women as it connoted victim-blaming mentality. The students' unions are already protesting the replacement of the erstwhile Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment with the ICC.

Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president Aishe Ghosh also strongly condemned the remark, adding that this was not the first time the ICC had conducted itself in such a way as to "moral police" victims of harassment. Such a remark creates a space where harassment in such lines will become rampant and will lead to becoming an unsafe space for women, Ms Ghosh said in her statement.

"ICC writes: 'girls are supposed to know how to draw a tangible line (between them and their male friends) to avoid any such harassments'. This exposes the attitude of victim-blaming, which the ICC has been practising," the All India Students' Association (Left affiliated) student outfit said, asserting that the counselling session was a "sham".

The ICC proposed the counselling session to be a monthly event to "dissipate" concerns regarding sexual harassment and to sensitise students towards the issue and how to deal with such incidents if they arise. It also stated that the ICC has a zero-tolerance policy towards any kind of sexual harassment.

However, students unions are demanding the reinstatement of the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment, which was replaced by JNU its 269th executive council meeting.

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TAGS:JNU Sexual Harassment Women's Issues Gender 
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