Students in India fighting sexual harassment and patriarchal oppression of women

20 April 2012

Fight to strengthen GSCASH by making it a PUNITIVE BODY!

Every issue is a woman’s issue and no issue is a woman’s issue alone!

Fight to strengthen GSCASH by making it a PUNITIVE BODY!

Hold high the red banner of revolutionary women’s movement

 against feudalism, patriarchy & state repression!

Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) was instituted in JNU in accordance with the Supreme Court guidelines in the Vishakha Judgment for the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace. It was the students’ movement of this campus which demanded that GSCASH be put in place, as a result of which in 1998 it became the first such body to be established in the entire country. The progressive student’s movement also ensured elected students’ representation in GSCASH along with representation from all other sections of the campus. GSACSH was mandated to spearhead and strengthen the movement for a gender-just campus by fighting sexual harassment and patriarchy in all forms. Unfortunately, the institution seems to have replaced (or displaced) the movement rather than complementing it. And so, it has been easy for the administration to attack and weaken the GSCASH over the last few years. Today GSCASH stands severely weakened and constrained due to deliberate administrative assaults as well as in absence of a vibrant students’ struggle or women’s movement around it.

Even some of the so-called progressive organisations like AISA and SFI, while being in responsible positions of JNUSU, are complicit in undermining GSCASH by repeatedly defending sexual harassers even after they were found guilty by this body. Recently, none of these organisations raised any opposition when GSCASH elections too were brought under the purview of reactionary Lyngdoh recommendations. AISA and SFI had already surrendered JNUSU and its constitution to Lyngdoh, and therefore had no issues with GSCASH too being controlled through Lyngdoh. It was only because of the timely intervention of the student community along with DSU that GSCASH elections were separated from Lyngdoh-regulated JNUSU elections, and we now have GSCASH elections which are free from the discriminatory and meritocratic clauses of Lyngdoh. However, we must not forget that while we have successfully defended GSCASH from the clutches of Lyngdoh, unless we continue the struggle against Lyngdoh and intensify the students’ movement, any possibility of progressive change in the campus – including the strengthening of GSCASH – will be seriously jeopardised.

 GSCASH in the past few years has been reduced to a body simply for ‘sensitization’ of gender issues on campus. ‘Sensitisation’ or changing the consciousness towards gender and gender-based discrimination has its own importance. It undoubtedly encourages criticality about the given gender norms and roles. The problem comes when we merely stop at that. The structures of oppression that surround us need to be questioned, fought and ultimately smashed. Sensitization, debates, discussions and consensus-building can meaningfully address people who are willing to listen. However, we must think in terms of concrete programmatic action to challenge the very structures of patriarchy. Patriarchy, strengthened by semi- feudal semi-colonial social relations will not be defeated only by talking politely on its face. Ensuring punishment to sexual harassers is a primary precondition of ensuring justice, enhancing women’s space and building a gender-sensitive campus. GSCASH till now is not a punitive body in JNU. All it can do is to recommend punishment to the administration. The VC holds the discretionary power to implement or set aside the recommendations. Continue reading