No link between gender justice, St.Stephen’s minority status: Activists

New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) Women activists on Wednesday condemned St. Stephen’s principal Valson Thampu’s for “mishandling” the sexual harassment case, saying the fight for gender justice had nothing to do with the college’s minority status.

The activists of Centre for Struggling Women (CSW) and other women organizations, in a statement, said his statements were “nothing but an attempt to mislead people into thinking that the growing criticism of his connivance with the accused in the case of sexual harassment involving a PhD scholar is an attack on the minority status of the college”.

During a media interaction on Tuesday, Thampu had said that the controversy targeted the college since it was a top minority institution with an excellent track record.

Terming the “accusation” as “highly misplaced and misleading”, the activists said: “We see this case as not just a problem of St. Stephen’s College but as indicative of a larger disturbing situation across workplaces and educational institutions that creates condition for sexual harassment as well as the concealment of such harassment.”

They added that the organizations pursuing the case were well aware of the issues at stake and could hardly be termed as anti-minority.

“We hence find it most unfortunate that certain well-meaning people have misunderstood the focus of the criticism tabled against principal Thampu in this matter, and hastily come to his rescue,” they added.

They further said they were eager to see the judicial process unfold so that the “veracity of the complainant’s account and the initiative of the protesters are vindicated”.

“The establishment of the truth, we are sure that well-meaning people, who are being misled by principal Thampu, will see how they have been duped. We advise the principal of the college to desist from name calling, trivializing the matter, and to allow the judicial process to take its course,” they said.

A research scholar at Delhi University had accused a chemistry professor at the college, Satish Kumar, of sexually harassing her during the course of her PhD work. She had also released a voice recording about her purported conversation with Thampu and Kumar and alleged that the principal was seeking to protect the professor while trying to dissuade her from filing a complaint.

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