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Students of NIFT Kannur protest against rampant sexual harassment by locals

The students of National Institute of Fashion Technology in Kannur, Kerala have been holding protests against the rampant sexual harassment faced by female students in the local area. According to reports, almost six hundred students from the first year to final year in this fashion institute have been protesting for almost a week against widely prevalent sexual harassment by locals. On March 15, 46 students handed over their complaints to the college director with the details of the incidents happened to them.

Reports say that the students, both male and female are frequently harassed by the local goons and there have been several instances of catcalling, molestation, stalking, cyberbullying and sexual harassment. The NIFT has a significant number of students from other states in India and they have complained of repeated cases of harassment. The students have stated that there is a very negative perception among local population about this institute and students even have to face moral policing about their sartorial choices both on and off campus.

Kannur NIFT is one of the 17 NIFTs run by the Ministry of Textiles and it has students from many states like Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. Female students have stated that they face frequent sexual harassment when they try to dress in western clothes. The campus is situated at some distance from the main city and on several incidents, female students complained that they had been grabbed by gangs of bikers.

According to reports, Kannur has a 50% Muslim population and the local women are mostly dressed in a burqa and female students of the NIFT often face unpleasant instances when they are dressed in jeans and t-shirts. The students have been holding placards demanding their rights to dress as they like. Students have stated that though they had managed to nab the culprits in two such incidents, the local police failed to take any significant action. They have added that the police have not been helpful to the students.

After days of protests, the college management has promised action on the issue and the senior police officers, local municipal officials and the Kannur district collector have assured the students that appropriate steps will be taken. They have stated that the security inside campus will be the institute’s responsibility.

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