“You know how it is with young people– they’re on the internet and sometimes receive hate mail and offensive messages. We’re concerned about them. We don’t want them to get bullied; we want them to know their rights.”
This is what a professor from Gauhati University had to say when we approached her for our workshop on the law against sexual harassment in colleges. She was worried about her students feeling helpless in situations like these and not knowing whom to reach out to. That’s where we stepped in.
Every workshop we conduct brings new lessons. The questions participants ask are a reminder of the many worries that women in India face, from being sent vulgar photos and messages on social media to being stalked in public to being denied opportunities if they do not agree to sexual favours. Higher education is still considered a privilege for women. As participants share their experiences, it becomes clear that at every step of the way, they have to prove that not only do they deserve this education but also that they are strong enough to overcome these ‘obstacles.’
The workshops are a space for students to learn that the law against sexual harassment doesn’t just talk about redressal but also creates a support system for complainants that should proactively encourage students to report cases of sexual harassment. As they walk out of our workshop, most participants report feeling more equipped and aware of their rights.