Trichy: Pollachi case exposes unsafe campuses too

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TRICHY: The Pollachi sexual abuse case has become a heated topic creating political storm in the state in the run-up to the general elections.

The case, which involves gang members, who used to befriend women on social media and lure them to forceful sex and then shoot obscene videos, has become a topic of intense discussion over the past couple of days. Still, students of several city colleges are a vulnerable lot because of the lack of an effective students counselling mechanism on the campuses. The apathy on the part of the authorities to take action against the culprits, and the lack of a proper mechanism to address the issues of the victims have resulted in repeated incidents of sexual harassments unaddressed in many colleges in the city.
Worst is the case in the government arts colleges where a significant section of students are from the rural areas. Unlike in a few government aided colleges in the city, there is no mechanism for the students to discuss and solve their issues or report about the ordeal they had under gone.
“Even when they do so on a couple of occasions, the accused were let off after conducting an inquiry and taking a written statement that they would not repeate the mistake again,” said a permanent faculty member of a college in the city.
“In another incident, the head of the department at a college was accused of misbehaving with students by texting inappropriate messages. Even when a student informed one of the lady staff in the same department about the incident, instead of initiating action, the other teachers used the opportunity to remove him from the post of the department head,” said the teacher.
It is unfortunate that such things are happening in a college founded by rationalist Periyar E V Ramasamy who pitched for women empowerment, said the faculty.
“A girl student in her final year under graduation eloped with her lover a couple of days ago,” said a faculty from Government Arts College, Thiruverumbur. “She could have been guided properly had the college facilitated the students to approach councillors for assistance while taking such decisions. There are namesake committees which are serving the purpose, which has never initiated action against perpetrators, ” said the faculty. While some of the aided colleges have counselling centres, students in a section of the colleges have no option to address such issues on the campus.
“Societal problems could be brought down if we could transform the students’ lives,” said Cathrine Savarimuthu, head of psychology department, Holy Cross College, Trichy, who is in-charge of the students counselling centre. The counselling centre at HCC is open to students, staff and even we outreach to their family members as some problems are family oriented. We need to create a support system for the students, she added.

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