Male sexual abuse, rape and assault are starting to become acknowledged as the UGC’s new regulation notified in May states that male students, too, can now file complaints against sexual harassment.
The University Grants Commission (UGC)’s new regulation notified in May states that male students, too, can now file complaints against sexual harassment. Besides stating that ‘gender harassment is neutral’, it adds that “the students who have alleged that they have been sexually harassed should file their complaints within three months of the offence.” Institutes are required to set up an internal committee to investigate within 30 days of receiving the report, and complete their probe within 90 days. According to the regulation if any university or college fails to follow the regulations, they would face action, including fund cuts. While the regulation is a landmark one, when it comes to focussing on male sexual harassment issues, will they change the mindset still prevalent in our society, that pushes men to hide such instances of harassment in order to not appear vulnerable or become the butt of cruel jokes? When we spoke to the male students on how they would deal with sexual harassment, many echoed the same concerns, that may be complaining would make them appear like a wuss, or that stating such concerns would mean ‘the end of college life’.
‘Boys don’t complain’
While most welcome the regulation, not many are sure they would approach the authorities if they faced an instance of harassment. “We are ‘boys’, and I wouldn’t go all out and complain about someone trying to act dirty with me. If you complain to the authorities, be rest assured that till the end of the term, or your college life, you will be tagged as ‘the boy who complained about getting molested’. I don’t want to be in that group,” says Heagan Fernandes, an engineering student. “You always associate women with complaints to the higher-ups, because you are always told, ‘men don’t complain’. I try to solve my own problems. Yes, sometimes, I will discuss them with my friends, but not a committee. That’s because that comes with a lot of baggage, and you need a lot strength to deal with that,” says Peter Dias, a final year Commerce student. “It is not just fear of being teased. You could also be misunderstood. It is always assumed that it’s a boy’s mistake in such incidents. If the incident involves a teacher, you can even fear about how it will affect your academic ratings,” says Ojas Kulkarni, a computer engineering student.
How boys deal with harassment
When asked how such cases have been dealt with in the past, Fernandes told us, “A friend of mine was extremely scared of going to his tuition classes because he was harassed by his tutor. It was something he could never talk to his parents about. It really messed with his state of mind.” “A lot of male students aren’t able to talk it out. Some of my friends have gone through such situations and would’t tell anyone about it. It takes courage to approach such a committee,” says Georgie Dias, a psychology student.
Glad male sexual abuse is being acknowledged
“I’m glad the authorities are acknowledging the fact that this doesn’t just happen to women, and looking after the safety of both genders. I’d definitely complain if I face a situation like sexual harassment,” says Sarvesh Shanai, a mechanical engineering student. Ritesh Naik, an MBA student, adds, “Though there are many such measures taken at the workplace, taking it up from the grassroots level is a good move. Sometimes, boys don’t tell you what is happening to them, because the whole culture tells them to just keep silent. However, now boys too are being encouraged to speak up. All I hope for is that this rule is not misused to take revenge, or to settle each other’s personal issues.”