How long will this college get away with saying that Allahabad is not a safe city for girls? How long will they continue to hide behind the argument that the 500 metres of public road between the girls’ hostel and the main college is not secure? The girls are frustrated, and infuriated by the authorities cowering behind the smokescreen of “safety issues of girls”. The girls’ hostel closes at 8PM. This means that the girls cannot access the college central library after that even though it stays open for the boys till midnight. They don’t even have a separate library to refer to after “dark”, should they wish to. This clearly hinders the academic progress of women. The college says that if someone has a problem with the hostel rules, they can find their own accommodation. But isn’t this a government college?
On 7th March, a certain path in the college was declared off limits for girls. The notice clearly stated that the “girl students” are not to use the shortcut road. Even though there is hardly anyone in the college who follows this rule, the fact that such a discriminatory and demeaning notice was passed in a National Institute of Technology, is appalling. It’s high time that the college authorities understand that times are evolving, and unless they evolve with it, there’s going to be a struggle ahead. The girls will not stay quiet forever, and neither will the boys for that matter. Declaring some routes in the college as off-limits for just one section of the students is not just a restriction on the liberty of girls, it is an offensive question on the morality of the boys in the college as well.
The recent incidences of moral policing have done more to stir discontent among the students than perhaps anything before. The college needs to stop thinking of social interaction between boys and girls as an unpardonable crime. They need to stop mirroring the image of a boy and girl sitting together in an obscene light. In a few months, many of the students shall be working at multinational corporations, with huge responsibilities. If they are mature enough to take decisions involving fortunes of a big company, surely they can decide when, where and with whom to be.
Restrictive timing in only girls’ hostels reflects gender bias on campus. It takes away the right to equality. Disallowing girls to use a path in the college, and having less number of hours for them in the library is a matter of restricting the mobility of girls, and taking away from them resources that are available to boys. It is a blot on the right to equality. And the issue of moral policing is not just interfering in the personal lives of students; it is hindering their right to freedom. The highest authorities in the college cannot stay passive forever. The students are dissatisfied. This dissatisfaction will soon turn into fury. Once that happens, there will be no smokescreen to cower behind.
The author wishes to remain anonymous.