By Aapurv Jain
This article shows how Delhi University continues to remain highly unsafe for its trans* and gender-queer students. The article mentions incidents of harassment and how the University’s new Sexual Harassment policy does not recognize gender-queer students and the harassment they face every day in the university campus.
The Delhi University being one of the premium universities of this country continues to remain highly unsafe for its trans* and gender-queer students who face harassment on a day to day basis at the hands of the university authorities, professors and students. Lewd comments and stares have become a part of their everyday existence.
One of the gender-queer students who was wearing a Saree was denied entry in his own department building and was asked for his i-card. When he asked the guard to call the manager, the guard apologized and let him enter. The same student was again asked for his i-card while he was having tea at the JP Tea Stall in the Delhi School of Economics. He has faced multiple forms of harassment from his professors and students in the university. He has to argue with the metro officials everyday to let him enter from the Gents section, who force him to go through the ladies one.
A first year trans* student is mocked at, by his professor in the class everyday as soon as he enters the class. He has been threatened to extreme forms of violence by some boys of the same college if he doesn’t stop dressing the way he does.
There are many more trans* people in the campus about whom nobody knows because they choose not to come out of the closet. They do so because they are fully aware of the stigma attached to it and the forms of harassment they would have to go through if they do so.
Delhi University, which claims to be working towards the goal of establishing itself as an international university cannot turn a blind eye towards its LGBTQ students and needs to work towards building a safe environment for them. The DU Sexual Harassment Policy (Ordinance XV-D) had kept the category of the victim as gender-neutral and safeguards the rights of all students irrespective of their gender identity and sexual orientation. However, the University has, in an autocratic manner, without taking the opinion of the students or faculty decided that the Women at Workplace Act will supersede the ordnance. The Act keeps the category of the victim as ‘women’ only and does not take into account the fact that men and trans* people can also be harassed. This shows the DU administration’s total disregard for its LGBTQ students.
But, we must keep in mind that even when the Act was in place, the state of sexual minorities was not very different than this. This is because the university and its colleges take no steps to make people in the university aware about the policy and set-up committees in the colleges. There is a total disregard for the issue of sexual harassment in Delhi University.
But apart from working on the legal front, the university also needs to work on Gender Sensitization process, where all students learn to respect each other irrespective of their gender and sexual orientation. This can be done by setting up Gender Forums or Women Development Cells in each and every college. Such cells exist only in a handful of colleges in the university and they too, barely talk about the issues of Sexual Minorities. The university needs to have special provisions and cells to help LGBTQ students and safeguard their rights and take strict measures to prevent their harassment. The student’s union too needs to take this matter seriously.