Sunday, March 27, 2011

Speak Out ! Lest We Tolerate a Gender Biased Campus !

[Statement issued on 24th March]

Photo: Women's Right Organization
It does not matter what time of the day it is, what you are wearing or who you are with, Delhi remains extremely hostile towards women. The streets, parks, buses, and bazaars are overwhelmingly male spaces where women are treated as unwelcomed trespassers to be teased, taunted and touched. Delhi University is very much embedded in this culture of harassment. For women, even a simple walk from hostel to college is a map of obstacles to be dodged and strategised around. Not only are women combating Black tinted cars, swerving motorcycles, groping hands and lewd calls but now also the possibility of being shot dead in broad daylight. It is in the neighbourhood of this respected University that a young female teacher was rounded up and molested by none other than male students of this university under the garb of lumpenism that is “allowed” in the name of holi, just a few days ago. It was in one of these usual days, whether it concerns female teacher or student or any other women, when around 11 pm at Chhatra Marg yet another young female teacher was stopped and molested by two bike-riding louts, while she shouted for help none came forward despite many students loitering around the pavements – it was the ‘mad’ exam month of April which sees some movement of students to and from the libraries in the otherwise desolate night streets of North Campus, Delhi University.

The rules for female hostel residents reflects Delhi University’s ‘acknowledgement’ that this university is a gendered space but it sadly turns the table around and hold women responsible for their own ‘safety’. Hundreds of campaigns to ensure safety in the campus have been organized since more than two decades – demanding street lights, more mobility of women etc. The street lights did come but they shone bright only for the 15 days during the common Wealth Games extravaganza; the lampposts are still standing but they shine no longer and women still walk unsafe in the dark. 

Some facts about Delhi University and gender-based rules : 

- Every year on Holi, DU locks up women hostellers like caged animals from 6 am to 6 pm. 

- Women in D.U are subject to nightly curfews which sometimes are as early as 7:00 pm. 

- Require special permission letters from Local Guardians to spend more than the few stipulated nights outside. 

- Women in hostels and P.Gs are constantly scrutinised and policed by the management. (Is that her brother?   Is she ‘asking for trouble’?) 

- Legally adult women in hostel have to sign attendance registers every single night. 

- When she comes late after the hostel curfew hours, she is not allowed to enter the hostel.

Male students in DU are exempted from the above restrictions and violations of freedom. 

We, both men and women, should all have equal right and freedom to: 

- Walk these streets without fear. 

- Not only walk but also to learn and have fun as students without the constant fear of unwanted advances. 

- Universal safety. 

- Freedom from the imprisonment of gendered rules. 

- Live without being preached morality in the name of protection. 

We also demand that the University facilities be made accessible to all students and teachers, irrespective of gender, at all times, which, we believe, will enrich the vibrancy of the university and curtail the unsafe environment of the University. We imagine that the more peopled the University streets are the more safe it will become, more spirited it will turn into and will inculcate a culture of responsible freedom befitting the essence of a “UNIVERSITY”.


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