Women’s panel to probe Goa varsity molestation case

May 9th, 2009 - 6:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, May 9 (IANS) Dissatisfied with the progress made by Goa University’s (GU) probe into a molestation and sexual harassment case filed by some students against their teacher, the Goa State Commission for Women (GSCW) has taken suo moto cognizance and will investigate the complaint, an official said here Saturday.
Speaking to IANS, GSCW chairperson Pramod Salgaonkar said that the commission was not happy with the slow pace at which the sexual harassment committee of the GU was handling the complaint.

“The probe was going on at a very slow pace. We have been forced to take suo moto cognizance of the serious charges of sexual harassment levelled against the university’s faculty member by students,” Salgaonkar said.

Last month, several second-year masters students of political science had accused their head of department Aureliano Fernandes of molesting and sexually harassing them.

One of the students told the university’s sexual harassment committee that Fernandes had also victimised her for rejecting his advances and gave her zero marks in an exam.

The students also alleged that one girl had dropped out of the university because of the incidents of sexual harassment.

“Fernandes used to take us to his cabin and ask us questions about our clothes, comment on our figures and repeatedly try to make physical contact,” one of the victims told the committee.

Salgaonkar said the GSCW had stayed away from the matter because the commission had received no formal complaint from the students.

“They had approached us and narrated the sexual harassment incidents. But then they had gone ahead and complained before the GU authorities. We had not received a written complaint,” she said, adding that GSCW’s intervention would help speed up the probe.

“We will send summons to the concerned parties soon,” she added. The commission has recommendatory powers.

Sources close to Fernandes have, however, said that the case was filed by students who were particularly “lacklustre in academic pursuit”.

“These are the same students who have been charged with ragging by the first-year political science students,” a source said.

GU Registrar M.M. Sangodkar said the probe by the varsity’s sexual harassment committee would be completed soon.

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