It's a free resource to for you understand the law, make an informed opinion and create awareness.
We are extremely grateful to our board advisor Advocate Veena Gowda for authoring the foreword to this handbook and for her constant support for our initiative.
Advisor: Advocate Shruti Vidyasagar
Authors: Lakshmi T. Nambiar, Megha Rana, Mrinali Komandur, Sreeja Sengupta and Tanishk Goyal
Research Assistants: Aaryan Mithal and Sai Snigdha Nittala
Lastly, the beautiful illustrations and designs have been made by Tishya Maini without whom this Handbook would not have been possible.
In 1997 when the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that the right to equality includes the right to protection against sexual harassment at the workplace, it became a landmark judgment in Indian feminist history. However, it took 16 years for the parliament to materialize this right and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, was finally brought into force in 2013. Subsequently, in the wake of Nirbhaya, the country came to the extremely delayed realization that more drastic changes were required to protect those vulnerable to sexual crimes.
The University Grants Commission thereafter set up a Task Force to look into how increasing lack of safety and sexual harassment affected students at the university level. This was detailed in the Saksham Report, which took note of the uniquely vulnerable position of the student community. Unlike the previous discourse on sexual harassment, this report took an intersectional approach by acknowledging how different vulnerable groups were disproportionately affected by sexual crimes. Overall, this report and the UGC Regulations that came thereafter were much-needed steps towards protecting the diverse student community across India. However, unfortunately, the awarenesssurrounding the rights brought by these guidelines was exceedingly low, making the Regulations ineffective
Having knowledge of legal options and rights is vital if we want the #MeToo movement to lead to fairer legal system. We at Himmat believe that justice is subjective for a survivor. The process of winning a case may fulfil the criteria of justice for one but might be jarring for another. The idea behind increased awareness is to allow each survivor to make that informed choice for themselves. Thus, one should choose a course of action based on their circumstances. This is our vision behind the Himmat Handbook.
As students, we believe that when aware of our rights, our collective strength as allies can create the ripple effect that is needed to demand accountability from college administrations and create safe college spaces for everyone.
Our hope for this handbook is that it assists the student community tackle oppressive institutions, fight systemic injustice and ease the layered difficulties that survivors face while navigating legal recourse in whatever little way it can.