Is the IIT Madras campus safe for women?

Visit IIT Madras at any time of the day - there would be a reasonable number of students on the roads. Students at the institute often say that Insti comes alive at night, which is true. After the day’s hustle, most students prefer to leave their hostels for a nice walk on the campus roads to rejuvenate. The campus’s natural beauty and fresh air feel different at night, as it gets slightly more relaxed, relieving the Chennai heat.

All roads, buildings, and bus stops on campus are well-lit to facilitate easy mobility for the students, especially since many students, especially PG and Ph.D. scholars, work late into the night at their labs. Institute buses run till 10 PM, and if required, one may avail of the facility even at night by calling the security section. The security service is well-rounded as well. Guards are placed where the lighting is insufficient and on roads leading to remote parts to assist students. The contact details of the Chief Security Officer and other personnel are available on the student portal, and one may report an issue at any time. The Institute Police also conducts regular rounds of patrolling at night to ensure the safety of students.

IIT Madras has a robust Women’s Forum to address the issues female students face—academic, social, physical, or mental health-related issues. Life Skills courses provided to first-years include a POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) program to make IIT Madras a safe place with equal opportunity for all to agree or to disagree, irrespective of gender. There is a Committee for preventing and redressing sexual harassment called C-CASH. The members of the Complaints Committee deal with the complaints of sexual harassment by the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of India relating to sexual harassment of women workers at workplaces and students, as given below. In addition to the above, the Chairman, Chief Security Officer, Chief Medical Officer, Chairman (CCW), Chairperson (Women’s Forum), Student General Secretary/Hostel Affairs Secretary will be invited to the meeting, as and when required by the Chairperson of C-CASH.

The Complaint Committee at IIT Madras has been set up to provide women with an appropriate complaint mechanism against unwelcome sexually determined behavior, whether directly or by implication. It is in line with the Supreme Court’s ruling on sexual harassment in the workplace being a violation of women’s fundamental right to a safe working environment. One can report any case of sexual harassment by writing in the mail or contacting members of C-CASH via any means. They would get the complainant within 24 hours and provide a private and safe environment to disclose any misbehavior or harassment they were subjected to. Action will be taken against the perpetrator after due inquiry. C-CASH also protects the complainant from victimization or discrimination. The body also works to create awareness and gender sensitization among the students and staff of IIT Madras.

Chennai is a safe city for women in general, and students may go out for work or personal needs at night by registering an entry at their hostels. IIT Madras is a haven for all its students and has proper mechanisms to prevent and address any untoward happenings, which are rare.