Moral Policing In College Hostels: Curtailing Personal Liberty

Posted on May 21, 2011 in Society

By Saloni Mathur:

During the past few years, number of debates and discussions had taken place regarding the practice of moral policing. What exactly is moral policing? Moral policing is a sensitive section of society which claims to be the guardian of the culture of the state. The notable incidents like Bajrang Dal’s acts of punishing people unlawfully on the eve of Valentine’s Day and Sri Ram Sena’s act of punishing women for dancing in pubs in Manglore are perfect example to explain the above concept. Such practice is condemned by major section of society, particularly youth as it clearly curtails the liberty of individuals.

I am a student residing in a college hostel. Notwithstanding the authority of our college, the handbook of rules and regulations of our college provide for a ‘Curfew time’ for girls to be 7 PM and yes, there is no in-time for boys. Isn’t it discriminatory? Moreover, don’t you think that it is infringing my freedom to move freely anywhere and giving an unrestrained freedom to boys of my batch. Doesn’t this aggravate gender inequality? The reason which is given to us for the same is that the city where we are living in is unsafe for girls. But why do we have to suffer if the culture of the society is bad? Steps such as employing police in such areas, awareness campaign must be taken rather than accepting such culture. A boy of a same college is taken to be sensible enough take care of himself and a girl is taken to be someone who would lend herself into trouble. Isn’t that illogical?

We are authorized to access Facebook, Orkut, Youtube and few other websites for a limited period of time. Whatever actions I make on the internet using the Wi-Fi facility of our college and hostel, are kept under constant surveillance.

There is a ban on wearing T-shirts and jeans and we are supposed to wear formals every working day including wearing uniform on two specified days except Saturdays. I don’t understand the rationale behind permission to wear casuals on a specific day that too only jeans and t-shirts and no Capri pants or sleeveless tops. In fact, fines are levied if such rule is broke. Fines are imposed even on wearing Slippers.

Moreover, we are not allowed to do video chatting except with the college mates. This is our inbuilt network system. The authorities are partially curtailing our freedom. There is no logic behind such rule. If video-chatting through Gmail or Skype would hamper our studies, then why wouldn’t the authorized video chatting with the college students. Isn’t it hypocrisy. We can not even download songs from websites such as Doesn’t it sound strange?

A person who is above 18 years of age are regarded as an adult. The idea behind prescribing such age was that it is the age of threshold of adulthood, where a person is deemed to be physically and mentally mature and has the ability to distinguish between rights and wrong. Further, Article 21 of the constitution of India provides to its citizens, Right to Personal Liberty. The irony which exists is that we are law students but our hands are so tightly tied under the threat of detainment, heavy imposition of fines, barring from participating in college activities that our zeal and conscience tostand up for what is right is imprisoned within such shackles. Being a law student and a firm believer and propagator of liberty, this, in my view is definitely the curtailment of our freedom.

We, as adults have full legal right to take decisions of our life. Putting such restrictions is simply building resentment in the youth that the conservative society still exists. We must be given liberty to act as per our will and in our interest. Such moral policing might help to maintain the discipline in the premises but what guarantee does this section take that such youth would not do the above things in the near future and would rather not develop a rebellious attitude. It is simply an infringement of our personal liberty.

Discipline is important, it is required, but curtailment of basic freedom is neither required nor important.