Why only girls, women need to be controlled or locked in at night: HC on Kerala hostel curfew

The women petitioners have contended that the 2019 government order was only being implemented in their hostel and not that of the men's
Image from the protests | Pic: Sourced
Image from the protests | Pic: Sourced

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday, December 7 questioned why only girls and women need to be "controlled" or "locked up" at night and asked the state government to ensure they get the same freedom as given to boys and men, while hearing a plea moved by five women students of Kozhikode Medical College challenging a 2019 government order which restricted movement of hostel inmates of higher education institutions after 9.30 pm.

Justice Devan Ramachandran said there is no need to fear the night and the government should ensure that it is safe to go out after dark for everyone, as stated in a report by PTI. During the hearing of the matter, the court questioned why only women or girls need control and not boys or men and why a curfew of 9.30 pm has been fixed for women in hostels of the medical college.

"Girls also have to live in this society. Will heads fall off after 9.30 pm? Will mountains collapse? The government has an obligation to keep the campus safe," the court said and asked whether there was any hostel in the state where boys had a curfew. The court also said if it was problematic, men should be locked up, PTI reported.

Freedom for girls, women 
The government said the restrictions were in place taking into consideration the concerns of the parents of the girls. The court said it was taking into account the concerns of parents of women and girls, but at the same time, there were other hostels in the state where there were no curfews. "Don't children living there have parents?" the court asked. It also said it was not going to blame the government if the parents want girls or women locked up at night. "Let us not fear the night. The freedom given to boys should be given to girls too," the court said.

On the last date of the hearing of the matter, the court had said that the state and public authorities must endeavour to make girls and women competent to take care of themselves rather than locking them in. It also said patriarchism, even in the form of offering protection to women and girls, has to be frowned upon as they are just as capable of taking care of themselves as men and boys.

The women petitioners contended that the 2019 government order was only being implemented in their hostel and not that of the men's. They have also sought a direction from the court to the medical college to permit them to access the reading room, study hall or library attached to the campus and the fitness centre there without any time restrictions "in the interest of justice, equity and good conscience."

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