A week after a woman student at IIT Madras was shamed by a staff member of the institute and the police for hugging a male friend on campus, IIT Madras is all set to host Hug Day. An initiative by students on campus who are ‘fed up of being harassed’, the event aims to “hug, discuss and document stories of moral.policing/harassment on campus and sign a petition so that it never happens again.”
The incident took place on April 17 when a staff member, Uday Kumar of the Applied Mechanics department allegedly took pictures of students of the institution, Tara* and Vikram* hugging.
Speaking to TNM at the time, Tara said, “Vikram and I were hugging outside the canteen and talking. There was this guy who was clicking pictures and videos of us. He said he was doing it for his safety and the safety of his children because we were immoral or whatever. He was secretly clicking pictures and I noticed him. He said such outrageous things. His argument was completely absurd. He got flustered, gave his staff id card and left the place. It’s illegal to click pictures of people and it’s a breach of privacy.
Tara alleges that neither the Dean of Students nor the police took appropriate action and acted on her complaint. Shocked at the insensitivity with which they were treated, the students have put forth a list of demands to the Dean.
This includes, “Suspension or appropriate action against the perpetrator, taking into account that he himself claimed to have committed the act multiple times prior to this particular incident, an apology from the perpetrator (for taking pictures without consent with the admitted intent of publishing it and tarnishing reputations) and the security section (for the mishandling of the case, and engaging in victim-blaming), an official statement from the institute to the announce list (GSB, staff and residents), condemning the act of the perpetrator (with his name and the way it was handled by the administration), written assurance that incidents of this nature will not occur in the campus in future, and, if it does, appropriate procedure will be followed, gender sensitisation workshops (including sessions against moral policing and victim-blaming) for all staff and security, and training for the security section on how to respond to reports of sexual harassment.”