Urgent Support

What is sexual harassment?

1.When Anish asked Ria out, she clearly indicated/ expressed that she did not want to go out with him. But Anish continued to repeatedly ask her out via text, email and calls. He also tracked down her social media account and kept sending her friend requests even after she repeatedly kept rejecting them.

2.Manish's senior, Shreya, had given him her number in case he needed any help with academics. However, the next day, Manish sent her some extremely obscene pictures and some sexual texts as well.


Sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome behaviour or action that is sexual in nature or related to the person's gender and sexual orientation. Sexual harassment creates a hostile environment for affected persons, impacting their academic performance, employment and mental and physical well-being.

Sexual harassment can take place in obvious as well as subtle ways. Some examples include

These types of conduct / behaviour are definitely forms of sexual harassment

Repeatedly asking someone out or asking them to come over/ meet somewhere etc. after they have said no

Sending sexual content electronically without consent

Demeaning sexual graffiti, slogans or illustrations of any kind

Whistling, catcalling (and other suggestive sounds/speech/songs)

Pressurizing for sexual favours by implied or explicit threat of consequences if denied or promise of preferential treatment.
(Quid pro quo) Threatening consequences like failing, leaking private information, withholding something they deserve such as a PoR and promising promotions, favourable working conditions, marks, professional opportunities etc.

Stalking and Cyberstalking Following someone around or monitoring/watching their actions online or otherwise

Visual harassment via gestures, indecent exposure

Unwanted touch of any kind Brushing against someone, touching, holding, hugging, groping, unnecessary close proximity

Leering/staring Looking at someone repeatedly/ continuously disregarding the discomfort caused

Threatening sexual violence Implied or explicit threat of a sexual act, rape threats to the person or their acquaintances

'Dirty' / inappropriate jokes / puns 'Jokes' that have sexual content, often cracked in someone's presence that make them uncomfortable / Making fun of someone's sexuality/gender identity

Spreading rumours Starting / spreading rumours about someone’s sexual experiences or partners, sexual orientation etc

Unwelcome written notes that are sexual in nature

Unwanted, persistent personal attention Giving someone excessive attention (eg. gifts) that they are not comfortable with or don't want

Inappropriate comments and remarks that are sexual in nature Commenting on someone's attractiveness/ body /clothes in a way that makes them uncomfortable

Using physical force of any kind pinning, blocking, groping, hitting

Unwanted sexual advances touching, kissing, coerced sexual intercourse, 'date rape'

These types of conduct and behaviour may be forms of sexual harassment if they have any sexual overtones or are linked with sexual harassment in any way

Harassment based on identity: Teasing, making 'jokes', slurs, derogatory remarks about an individual based on their identity (caste, class, location, sexual orientation, religion, gender, age, disability)

Intimidation or threat of physical violence

Physical violence of any kind

Calling names

Bullying, including online/cyber bullying

A note about social media interactions: Social media platforms provide individuals with increased anonymity and are often misused to share negative or unwanted (even private) information about people. If you come across something like this about yourself on any of the online platforms, it can be quite upsetting. Seek support / report such instances as mentioned at the end of the article.

I am being harassed. What can I do?

Regardless of who is harassing you, know that it is absolutely not acceptable, you do not deserve this and it isn't your fault. It is natural for you to be feeling a range of emotions like anger towards the perpetrator, anxiety/fear about what may happen, or even guilt, numbness, sadness. But you don’t have to cope with this alone.

Any student (female, minority sexuality, male) can complain against another student, faculty, staff for harassment experienced in any part of the campus including library, hostels, paths, canteens and online platforms and in any workplace situation including department parties, picnics, conferences, field trips, festivals, sports meets, internships.

Confide in any safe person

Talking to any individual who understands what you’re going through and validates your experience can be of great help. Reach out to your friend, mentor or a professor you trust, and share whatever you’re comfortable with.

Resources on campus

Gender Cell, PoSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) Champions, Security (Quick Response Team) and Student Wellness Centre (details at end of this article).

These services are for everyone and confidentiality is maintained. Please do not hesitate in reaching out.

My friend is being harassed. What can I do?

Provide a judgment-free space for your friend to talk. Remember that if your friend is confiding in you, they think of you as a safe person. Listen well to them and provide your support.

Label the behaviour and call it for what is. Tell them that it is harassment and it is not acceptable.

Tell your friend that you genuinely believe them, don’t try to verify what they share. Don’t push them to share details that they're not comfortable talking about.

All this will naturally bring up many emotions for you because you care for your friend (like fear, anger). But try to maintain calm and don't overwhelm them further with your responses.

Use validating and reassuring statements like

  • I'm glad you told me. You can always talk to me about these things.
  • I believe you. Know that you’re not alone.
  • I'm really sorry this happened to you.
  • You don't deserve this. This is not your fault.

Make sure they’re safe, especially in instances like stalking or threatening.

Talk to them about their different options moving ahead. Provide information about the resources available on campus. Address any doubts or concerns they may have (about confidentiality, possible consequences, etc.)

While you can encourage them to get help, remember that what they do is ultimately their choice.

Ask them how they would like you to help (I'll support whatever you choose. How can I help you?). Offer to help in practical ways (like accompanying them to the centre).

Respect their privacy and do not share the details with others. This decision lies with your friend. If you’re worried about their safety and need to tell someone in authority, have a conversation with them about the same.

Continue to check-in with them regularly and let them know that you’re there for them.

Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself too.
If the experience gets too difficult and brings up difficult emotions for you, don’t hesitate to call for help.

Find support on campus

Please don’t hesitate in reaching out to the Gender Cell. Here is how
  1. Send a mail to gendercell@iitb.ac.in
  2. Response expected in 24-48 hours
  3. Meeting set up usually within 3-5 days

Read more at http://www.gendercell.iitb.ac.in/en/home/frequently-asked-questions

Read more

PoSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) Champions are empathetic IIT Bombay student volunteers who can be contacted by students for guidance. They are trained and certified on identifying sexual harassment, on the IIT Bombay policy on the prevention, prohibition and redress of sexual harassment and in supporting aggrieved students with addressing their concerns sensitively. http://www.gendercell.iitb.ac.in/en/home/contacts Click here

You can also contact Security or the Quick Response Team at any time if you feel a threat to your personal safety. Female QRT Incharge can be reached on 9167398598.

When emotions get overwhelming or when you are simply confused about what is happening to you, talking to a counsellor at the Student Wellness Centre could give relief and provide guidance about what you can do.