‘Sexual harassment’ has become a common phenomenon in our country. University students are one of the main victims of sexual harassments. Especially female students are more likely to be subjected to these sorts of stalking.
In Bangladesh now and then we hear about incidents of sexual harassments to the university students by their very own professors. Moreover a university student often gets harassed by their classmates, seniors and lovers. To stand against this social menace we can take lots of precautions.
First of all, the best way to deal with it is to speak up. Someone has to raise his/her voice instantly in a definitive manner when it occurs. And if the victim feels shy about talking to the offender, then this could be done in several other ways too. It could be done in written form also. The victim can write an anonymous letter or send an email to the harasser explaining the incident or remark that was troubling him/her. And it is always a good idea to keep a copy of the letter or email because it could be used as evidence in future, in case the offender does not stop doing that.
If things go out of your control and begin to turn into a serious offence, then the victim can protest in a loud voice. In many cases, the offender gets scared when someone asks to stop loudly, because he/she fears that if someone hears the noise, then he/she will be in trouble. Fortunately now we live in an era of technology where victims can easily make use of technology for his/her defense by recording voice and taking picture. And it is always a good idea to inform someone else about the harassment so that he/she can speak in favour of the victim if necessary.
Next step is to involve the proper university authorities in the matter. Here educational institution can do a lot to help the victims. Every institute should have a clear policy about how to handle such matter. Often the victim gets blamed for the offender’s crime, university authority has to be very cautious about it and make sure that does not happen. If a university doesn’t have such policy, then the students should talk to the faculty about it and ask the policymakers to make one. Even after that if they don’t make a new student-friendly policy about sexual harassments, then students can start protesting and signing petitions until they make a policy about sexual harassment.
In the meantime university students can also raise awareness about this matter by arranging seminars and workshops in the campus. The more we will talk about it, the more the victims will come forward without much hesitation if they face any sort of sexual harassment from anyone.
Contacting the law enforcement agency is the last option. The victim can report to police about the kind of harassment he/she is going through so that they can take necessary legal actions.
Finally, the students themselves must take a strong stand against all kinds of sexual harassments. They have to be united to fight back such problems. They have to support each other, comfort each other and always be conscious about what is going on around them so that no one can take unfair advantage of anyone or demean someone in any way.
(The writer is a student of the Institute of Education and Research, University of Dhaka.)