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'For safe campuses, mindsets of people need to change'

Posted on Feb 12 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 12 : Union Human Resource Development Minister M.M. Pallam Raju Wednesday said a safe and secure atmosphere on campuses can be ensured only if there is a change in people's mindsets.

Raju was speaking at the release of "Saksham", the report of a task force set up by the University Grants Commission (UGC) which sought to review measures for ensuring women's safety on campuses and programmes for gender sensitisation.

"There is an imperative need to create safe and secure atmosphere in campuses. To achieve this, there is a need to change the mindsets of people, apply it in word and follow it in deed," Raju said.

"Gender sensitisation discussions should be made an integral part of public discourse in campuses to build awareness about the issue," he added.

The report gave several fundamental recommendations which are in consonance with the Justice Verma report and the Vishaka guidelines.

It suggests that the UGC should set up a gender sensitisation unit and develop a handbook on it; all institutes must formulate guidelines for dealing with sexual harassment; all members of higher educational institutions must undergo processes of gender sensitisation; modules on gender sensitisation should be offered to students in higher education institutions and also calls for strengthening women's development cells in colleges.

"Adequate infrastructure, such as lighting in and around campuses, reliable public transport, toilet facilities and girls' hostel accommodation must be provided in the higher education institutions," the report further recommends.

The task force was set up in the aftermath of the Dec 16, 2012 rape incident in Delhi and was headed by UGC member Meenakshi Gopinath.

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