The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has come under fire for a controversial public invitation for a counselling session on sexual harassment. According to the invitation, "Girls are supposed to know how to draw a tangible line between them and their male friends," which drew flak for placing the onus of ensuring their safety on women. However, the university has since then modified the line, though it still places the onus on women.
The Internal Complaints Committee (IC) of the university had uploaded the invitation on JNU's website, saying that it will organise a counselling session on sexual harassment on January 17. It also said that such sessions will be organised on a monthly basis.
Under the subhead "Why is this counselling session required," the contentious point has now been replaced with, "Boys will be counselled to clearly distinguish between friendship and behaviour that may be considered sexual harassment. Girls will be counselled how to avoid sexual harassment."
The move comes a day after National Commission for Women (NCW) Chairperson Rekha Sharma sought withdrawal of the "misogynist" circular issued by the university. “Why all the teachings are always for girls only? Time to teach harassers not the victims. The misogynist circular of #JNU should be withdrawn. The internal committee should have a Victim-Centered approach and not otherwise,” she tweeted.
Under the subhead "why is the counselling session required," the earlier invite had said that it will make students aware of what consists of sexual harassment. It also said that students are being counselled during the orientation programme and at the inception of each academic year, and that they need to refresh their knowledge about the same from time to time.
"ICC come across a number of cases where sexual harassment takes place among close friends. Boys generally cross (sometimes advertently, sometimes inadvertently) the thin line between friendship's bantering and sexual harassment. Girls suppose to know how to draw a tangible line (between them and their male friends) to avoid any such harassments (sic)," the earlier invite read.