‘Secret shower videos’ force Indian university’s week-long closure

Student groups condemn institution’s denials and call for ‘student-run’ body to look into sexual harassment on campus

九月 20, 2022
Sexual harassment
Source: iStock

A university in the Indian state of Punjab has temporarily suspended its activities following large-scale student protests over its handling of naked videos allegedly made by a student.

Administrators announced a week-long closure of Chandigarh University on 19 September after a female student was said to have filmed her peers showering in their shared accommodation, according to the BBC. Local media reported that she shared the videos with her boyfriend and another man, who may have posted them online to pornographic sites.

Police believe that the woman accused of filming may have deleted some incriminating videos from her phone, The Times of India reported. All three suspects have been taken into custody as part of an ongoing police investigation.

The institution, which bills itself as the “best private university in Punjab”, has come under fire for its handling of the incident – including denials that other students had been filmed without their consent.

On 18 September, the university issued an official statement saying that there was no evidence of claims that some 60 videos of other students had been found.

“All the rumours of objectionable videos shot of other girl students are totally false and baseless,” said pro chancellor of the university, RS Bawa.

She said that a “preliminary investigation” by administrators found “no videos…except a personal video shot by a girl which was shared by herself to her boyfriend”.

Dr Bawa also dismissed rumours that any students had committed suicide or attempted it as result of the incident – echoing statements by police. She said that mobile phones from all suspects had been turned over to the authorities and that Chandigarh University was “fully cooperating” in the investigation.

“The university is fully committed and competent to ensure safety and security of all our students, especially our daughter like [sic] girl students,” read the official statement.

In another post to the university’s official Facebook page, the institution cautioned against the “spread of misinformation which tarnishes image of a person”.

But despite administrators’ attempts to quell speculation, recent events appear to have shaken students’ faith in the institution. At least one student told local news they no longer felt “safe” on campus.

“The university has declared a holiday and we are going home as we don’t feel safe here. The students are yet to get justice as [university officials] are yet to take any action on the matter,” the student said.

Meanwhile, student groups have condemned the university’s response.

“Management is acting very carelessly on this incident and wants to suppress it for the reputation of the college,” wrote the All India Students Union.  

Another group, the left-wing All India Students Association (AISU), echoed the sentiment.

“What is the point of having heavy security on the gates and archaic hostel timings in the campus, when our privacy [and] our security is compromised even inside our hostel washrooms,” the group tweeted.

AISU issued demands, including that the university allow the “formation of student unions, protests and activism” on campus. It called for a “student-run body…with external members and professors” to look into sexual harassment cases at the university.

The group also wants the university to “open hostel gates”, scrapping curfews in women’s accommodation – something it says is “patriarchal and misogynistic”.

Times Higher Education has contacted Chandigarh University for comment.




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