Published: 27th February 2020
Girl's body is a mystery, keep it covered: What made DU girls sit for an indefinite strike against curfew timings
Amending the curfew timings of the girls' hostels is a long-standing demand but this is the first time that all the five hostels that house Indian students have come together to protest
The women who reside in Delhi University's hostels for undergraduate students have a curfew of 7.30 pm and those pursuing post-graduation have a deadline of 10 pm. The students say they have been told enough times that the authorities at the hostels cannot do anything about it and have now decided to take it upon themselves to amend the regulation — the students of five of the six women's hostels of DU will be on an indefinite sit-in from 6 pm, February 27 at the DU Girls' Hostel Main Gate on Indira Vihar Road, Mukherjee Nagar.
Amending the curfew timings of the girls' hostels is a long-standing demand but this is the first time that all the five hostels that house Indian students — Undergraduate Hostel for Girls, Ambedkar Ganguly Students House for Women, North Eastern Students House for Women, Rajeev Gandhi Hostel for Girls and University Hostel for Women — have come together to protest. "The sixth hostel is meant for foreign students who are not an active part of the protests because they are not allowed to protest in India. But they are in support," said Amisha Nanda, a student of law at Miranda House and also a hosteller. "It might seem to be a very insignificant issue but this will change how the university administration treats women. We will start our indefinite sit-in this evening and there will be students from across the varsity in our protest — there will be nukkad nataks, songs, poetry and other performances as well," she added.
"How can a university that prides itself on having a 24x7 library keep most of its women students locked in by 8 pm, effectively barring them from accessing the library?" asked Amisha, who hails from Shimla. "We will continue our agitation till the authorities accept our demands," she added. The students have also planned to burn the prospectus of the varsity in full public view. "The prospectus is nothing but a rulebook that lists how many ways students can be thrown out of the hostel. The attitude of the authorities needs to change as well. They are not doing us a favour by letting us stay here," added a student.
Tomorrow is Ambedkar Ganguly Student House (Delhi University)for Women's Hostel Night and the warden told girls who were performing that " their dance is disrespectful " "Their body should remain a mystery, so no revealing clothes " And when we asked her for explanation she said "toh theek hai agar aapko ek boob dikha ke nikalna hai ya nanga nachna hai toh andar dikhao, bahar nahi" This was the introduction of a dance performance: Surviving and Fighting Patriarchy is an exhausting experience for women. So here is a performance about women being unapologetic and liberated. She said, this is not liberalism. She also told girls to cut those parts of performances which according to her were "disrespectful ". When the residents asked for an explanation, she walked off telling the guard " band kardo gate". This kind of cheap, disgusting and derogatory behavior and moral policing is intolerable. The women of Ambedkar Ganguly Hostel demand a written apology and won't settle for anything less than RESIGNATION OF WARDEN. SHAME!!
So what do the students want? The students said that they want the university to immediately follow the UGC Guidelines and the Saksham Committee Report and remove curfews (in/out timings) from all women's hostels in DU and hostels of all colleges affiliated to DU including the college hostels run by private trusts. They said that the University Grants Commission's (UGC) regulations dated May 2, 2016, declared restriction on women's mobility as unjustified for universities to impose and added that the higher education regulator has said that concern for safety of women students must not be cited to impose discriminatory rules for women in the hostels as compared to male students. "Campus safety policies should not result in securitisation such as over monitoring or policing or curtailing the freedom of movement, especially for women students and employees," the notification said.
While the protesting students want the gates to be open for them 24x7, Ankita Biswas, a student of the university and a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) said that the situation in the national capital is not safe for women and the curfew is not very unrealistic. "But a curfew at 7.30 pm is too early," agreed Ankita. "If the deadline is around 10-10.30 pm it sounds plausible. We need better security in the streets for an extended deadline," she said.
DUSU President, Akshit Dahiya said that student life teaches an individual discipline and a curfew timing is thus necessary but there shouldn't be any discrimination between boys and girls in this respect, "Hostels should have stipulated timings but that timing should be same for boys and girls. There should not be any discrimination based on gender in this matter. Not just our parents but some students too want to learn to live a disciplined life and hostels play an integral role in that."
The issue took a serious turn when some residents of the Ambedkar Ganguly Students’ House for Women broke open the lock of their hostel late on Sunday night in protest of the alleged “arbitrary” rules and regulations, including curfew timings. According to students of the women’s-only Ambedkar Ganguly hostel, the protest on Sunday was triggered when the hostel administration allegedly tried to “moral police” them. “We were preparing for our annual hostel night where students perform different activities every year. The hostel warden started passing comments on the songs on which the girls were dancing to. She passed sexist comments on the dresses of some girls — a girl's body is a mystery and one should keep it covered at all times, she said. When the girls resisted, the guards locked all doors of hostels from the inside, which remain open normally as the hostel is inside a guarded complex,” a resident said.