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Perverts on Prowl in Bengaluru's Maharani Arts & Science Girls' College

Two teachers have been suspended, and another transferred, following the complaints of sexual harassment and molestation by the students at Bengaluru's Maharani Arts & Science College.

Deepa Balakrishnan, Nagarjun Dwarakanathdeepab18

Updated:March 21, 2017, 8:00 PM IST
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Bengaluru: Two teachers have been suspended, and another transferred, following complaints of sexual harassment and molestation by the students at Bengaluru's Maharani Arts & Science Girls' College.

Established in the pre-independence era, the college is one of the city’s biggest and oldest girls’ colleges, catering to girls’ education for nearly eight decades.

Run by the government, Maharani Arts & Science College also caters to rural students, most of whom belong to economically weaker sections and cannot afford private education.

But the horror for the students didn’t just stop at sexually-tinted remarks and molestation by teachers. Some students have complained that a “pervert” has gained access to the hostel courtyard and, over the last few weeks, has been on the prowl at nights, stealing girls’ innerwear hanging from clotheslines.

CCTV footage from the college clearly shows the prowler, half-nude, even trying on these clothes. While the college authorities have lodged a complaint against the stalker, an internal enquiry has been undertaken to look into the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against members of the faculty.

A committee has now been set-up on the lines of the Vishaka guidelines to inquire into these complaints and has been asked to submit a report within 15 days.

College Principal Professor Shantha Kumari told News18, “One of the suspended professors was transferred to a first-grade college in Gulbarga in north Karnataka, but since this was hotly debated, the department decided to suspend him.”

Shockingly, when asked about other complaints of harassment filed by at least five students against a total of eight male faculty members, she said that the committee set-up on the basis of Vishaka guidelines will “observe activities now” and teachers have been warned.

“This is a great a wake-up call to the teachers. So, they should understand and behave properly now. Teachers should not do this in future,” she said.

Chairman of the Legislature Committee on Women and Children V S Ugrappa has sought a report from the committee. “This is a prestigious college with 3,000 students. There are only about 19 or 20 male staff members, and they have been accused of sexual harassment. We have received information of three instances, involving eight staffers in all. Once the college committee gives its report, we will take further action,” Ugrappa told News18.

The victims, however, are shying away from filing police complaints against the staff, worrying they will be required to follow-up with police statements and court appearances in future, and they want to avoid all of that, Ugrappa added.

“These are all incidents of molestation, punishable under section 354 (assault on women with an intent to outrage their modesty). Some are trying to touch the bodies of the girls, or verbally alleging something… we have told concerned officials to plug this,” Ugrappa said.

When his committee visited the college, students told him that they wanted action (such as transfer or suspension) against the teachers, but they won’t file police complaints as it would affect their future.

Lawyer and women rights activist, Pramila Nesargi, pointed out that no action can be taken legally in the absence of an FIR. “If no complaint is registered with the police, a written application is made to the concerned authorities.

If authorities refuse to cooperate, the students can write to the Governor, too, as he is the Chancellor of Universities. Students don’t complain fearing the college may fail them or their career may go for a toss,” she said.

When asked the point of transferring officials facing such serious charges (as they could continue to molest in a different college), Ugrappa said: “They are waiting for the final report to come before they can suggest further action.”

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| Edited by: Mirza Arif Beg
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