Published: 24th November 2022
Kerala: Kozhikode Medical College students demand withdrawal of curfew timings order
The students, in addition to changing curfew timings, also demanded access to a 24-hour reading room
Students of the Kozhikode Medical College, Kerala, have submitted a petition to the Kerala High Court on Monday, November 21, seeking to withdraw a government order that set the curfew timings for hostels. They protested outside their college gates around 9:50 pm on November 16 and alleged that the curfew restrictions were being enforced only for the girls hostel and not followed in practice for the boys hostel.
The government order in question was given in accordance with a Kerala High Court order from 2019. The order had asked colleges to extend their hostel curfew hours to 9.30 pm. "I have been a student of this institute for four and a half years now. Every year, there is some type of movement to break the curfew timings. There is a common rule that states that everyone should be back in the hostel by 9:30 pm. But this is only being enforced for the girls," said Henna, a student of the college. Students informed EdexLive that they had launched a movement last year — Azadi: Break The Curfew Campaign — for the same.
What happened last year?
Vice Chairperson of the Students' Union in the institute, Fiona Joseph, stated that although the curfew timings existed last year too, wardens made it very strict for the girls. "The warden scared the students. She made a WhatsApp group with the parents and would inform them who all are leaving the hostel. But she resigned after that," Fiona said. The new warden who has been appointed now is, however, also very strict with the timings with the girls, she said. "Boys are allowed to move out of the hostel after 9:30 pm. We told the authorities that the rules are only being imposed on the girls. But then, we were told that it is because 'they are boys'," she added.
The students, in addition to changing curfew timings, also demanded access to a 24-hour reading room. "Being medical students, such a reading room is a necessity for us, especially during exams. Some students prefer to pull an all-nighter to study. We also have group studies within the hostel and we would want access to such a room," said Fiona. The college, however, issued an order last year, which stated that the library would be open for access to the boys after curfew timings. But girls had to study in their hostels. "We protested against this as well last year. The college then froze the order," Fiona said.
Safety and security?
Students mentioned that the administration has cited reasons such as safety and security for setting such curfew timings. However, they question the logic behind tightening curfew timings only for one part of the hostel. "Our campus doesn't have a wall. Anyone can go in and out. There have been instances of men stalking us. But instead of increasing security and setting up CCTV cameras, they are making the curfew stricter, even if such incidents have been reported prior to the curfew timings," said Fiona. Students have been demanding for the institute to be a closed campus but the work started two years ago and hasn't been completed yet, she added.
To recall, Muvattupuzha MLA Mathew Kuzhalnadan launched an initiative in October, which was a four-day long ‘Girls Night Out’ campaign. It was launched to encourage women to step out after dark and create nightlife in the town, as stated in a report by PTI. Students claim that the same state government that took such "progressive" steps, is now implementing the curfew timings strictly only for girls. They have now filed a petition with the Kerala High Court seeking the withdrawal of the government order regarding the curfew timings of the hostel. "We also met Shashi Tharoor and he told us that immediate intervention will be taken. The administration has said that they have formed a 10-member committee and will submit a report to the government," said Henna.
The story of curfew restrictions has been reported from multiple educational institutions in Kerala and across the country as well. Just last year, a group of women students of Aluva's Union Christian College in Kerala staged a strike in front of the college premises, seeking that its women's hostel withdraw its curfew hours, in accordance with the state court's order. In fact, the famous movement Pinjra Tod was born out of an anonymous open letter that was sent to the Jamia Millia Islamia Vice-Chancellor protesting the cancellation of women students’ right to stay out until late at night way back in 2015. Since then, the movement has been gaining strength with women from educational institutions joining to protest against curfew imposition and other issues such as dress code, lack of accommodation etc.
EdexLive has reached out to the principal of the college. The copy will be updated once a response is received