Last Wednesday, Prothom Alo published an editorial expressing concern over the incident. Questions were raised about the negligence and indifference of the university authorities. We are also surprised, without identifying the sexual abusers, the university administration set a deadline for the students to return to the halls. Such a decision was taken in a meeting of vice-chancellor Shireen Akhtar with the registrar, proctor and provosts of various halls.
The students staged a sit-in and demonstration in front of the vice-chancellor's residence on Wednesday night to protest against such a decision and to demand justice in the case of sexual harassment. They made four demands, including ensuring the trial of sexual harassment within the next four working days. Otherwise the proctorial body must resign. The university administration has also promised to take action to meet the demands of the students.
Recently, several female students of the university have been sexually harassed. Most of the miscreants involved were not punished. There is allegation of sexual abuse against the activists of the student organisation of the ruling party. But the anti-sexual harassment cell of the university could not play any role in this.
Following the incident of sexual harassment in Jahangirnagar University, the cell was created on the orders of the High Court, but it has been kept ineffective in a planned manner, alleged many teachers. Cell in-charges don't pay any attention to the complaints of students. Even if the complaint is taken, it remains unopened for days. There are even complaints that have been lying there for four years. The vice chancellor herself is the convener of this cell.
Subarna Majumdar, a teacher of the communication and journalism department of the university, told Prothom Alo in an interview, "In most of the incidents that happened with the students inside the campus, the leaders and workers of the ruling student organisation are involved. Those who are in the cell, they do not want to upset the ruling party by annoying the leaders and workers of the student organisation. Because there are many things related to it, such as financial benefits, grants, personal promotion.” We are concerned over the security of female students at this situation.
The agitated students have also demanded to break the anti-sexual harassment cell and form a new effective cell. Also, the trial must be arranged within one month of receiving the complaint. Otherwise the provision of taking action against the officials of the cell should be included in the constitution. They also demanded exemplary trial of the existing complaints lying at the cell within the next four working days. We expect the university administration to accept all the demands of the students and implement the commitment to prosecute cases of sexual harassment. Sex offenders should be identified and punished expeditiously. They cannot be exempted in any way.