UGC and Women’s Council to Collaborate on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Universities

UGC and Women’s Council to Collaborate on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Universities

The University Grants Commission (UGC) and Bangladesh Mahila Parishad have expressed a joint interest in working together to prevent sexual harassment and violence against women in higher education institutions. This decision was made during a courtesy meeting between UGC Acting Chairman Professor Dr. Muhammad Alamgir and a seven-member delegation led by Dr. Fauzia Moslem, President of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, on Monday, June 24, at the UGC.

Key Attendees and Discussions

  • Attendees: UGC member Professor Dr. Hasina Khan, General Secretary of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad Maleka Banu, and other relevant officials from UGC and Mahila Parishad.
  • Discussions:
  • Dr. Fauzia Moslem highlighted the occurrence of sexual harassment and violence in universities, emphasizing the human rights violations faced by affected students and faculty. She stressed that these incidents disrupt the educational environment and hinder women’s empowerment.
  • Awareness Campaign: She emphasized the need to promote awareness that sexual harassment and violence against women are crimes. She also urged UGC to expedite investigation reports on sexual harassment cases, such as those at Jagannath University.
  • Workshops and Training: She proposed organizing workshops involving vice-chancellors of public universities to increase awareness of sexual harassment issues.

UGC’s Stance and Initiatives

  • Zero Tolerance Policy: Professor Alamgir reiterated UGC’s zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment. He mentioned that UGC has been directing universities to take swift actions against such incidents.
  • Challenges in Reporting: He acknowledged that victims often hesitate to report incidents due to fear of jeopardizing their academic careers. Additionally, universities sometimes avoid addressing these issues to protect their reputation.
  • Safe Campus Environment: He urged university authorities to create safe and women-friendly campuses. He recommended forming complaint committees with female members, setting up transparent complaint boxes, fostering harmonious student-teacher relationships, and raising mental health awareness.

Additional Measures and Recommendations

  • Professor Dr. Hasina Khan: She noted that laws addressing sexual harassment and bullying are included in the newly established public universities’ regulations. UGC plans to incorporate sexual harassment issues in the annual performance agreements to evaluate university performance.
  • Bangladesh Mahila Parishad Recommendations:
  • Form committees to prevent sexual harassment and violence in every faculty.
  • Conduct regular workshops with faculty deans, student counselors, and students.
  • Discuss High Court directives on sexual harassment at freshmen orientation programs.
  • Include High Court directives on sexual harassment in the employment policies of teachers, officers, and staff.
  • Strengthen the activities of existing committees formed to address sexual harassment and violence.
  • Arrange workshops and training programs for stakeholders with UGC’s involvement.

This collaborative effort aims to ensure a safe and respectful learning environment in universities, promoting gender equality and safeguarding the rights of students and staff.

JR Nayan

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