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Something Is Rotten In St Stephen’s: An Ex-Student Speaks Out!

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By Leila Gautham:

This article delineates my own experiences of three years as a student in St. Stephen’s College and as a female hosteller in the college’s ‘residence’. It consists of four sections that collectively present a narrative of rules surrounding girls’ blocks and the student movement in 2013 questioning these rules. Like all narratives, this is a personal one and reflects observations and inferences that might not be shared by others.

St Stephens
Photo credits: Prato9x

The Rules

The rules regarding the girls’ hostels at St Stephen’s College will sound pretty familiar to anyone who has studied in Delhi University (and any other institution of higher education, with a few honourable exceptions). I shall proceed to list them out, as they now stand:

Female hostellers are required to be inside their blocks by ten o’clock at which time they are physically locked in. Entering after ten o’clock results in severe rebuke and a visit to the principal’s office, after which they may take any disciplinary action as they see fit.

Girls are permitted to take six days of ‘night-outs’ in a month, and the permission process involves getting a letter from one’s local guardian (if one is visiting the local guardian). If one is not visiting the local guardian – and instead, say, staying over at a friend’s house – one has to get a letter from one’s parent stating the address and giving permission. This letter is scrutinized by both warden and dean and has to be submitted three days in advance.

To highlight the extent of the ridiculousness, such permission letters have to be given even when a girl leaves college for the holidays (a letter from her parents that she is ostensibly returning home). In fact, even after finishing my BA and leaving Stephen’s, I had to give such a letter.

Taking night-outs on weekdays is discouraged: one is asked the ‘reason’ why one is taking the night-out, if it is advisable to miss classes, et cetera et cetera. Needless to say, as boys have to hand in none of these letters, no such questions are asked of them should they choose to absent themselves at night.

To summarise, female hostellers are subjected to an entirely different regime than their male counterparts – definitely more cumbersome and burdensome, and to some at least, deeply frustrating, humiliating, and demoralizing. Accounting for cultural and ideological differences and respecting the non-homogenous views of my fellow female hostellers, I can only say that I found it to be a disturbing loss of my own autonomy. I also found a gaping contradiction in my own life as a student, where, on the one hand, I could be as radical as I wanted and discuss feminism and neoliberalism in the classroom, but could not be trusted to make decisions about my own safety.

The Movement

Broadly, one could say that it was these concerns of lack of autonomy for female students as well as unequal access to public spaces that prompted a movement in the student body from March to June in 2013.

Discrimination was appearing in more and more blatant ways – girls were being asked as to where they were going, and why they were going there. Girls who were going home and were being picked up were asked to meet the warden with their male escorts so she could verify that it was indeed their ‘brother or father’. Parents had to send text confirmations to the wardens. These demands made of the female hostellers were entirely arbitrary, unbacked by formal rules, but with the clear support of the administration and the principal. One was told that disobeying would lead to drastic consequences and questioning was not encouraged. Beyond the rhetoric of ‘safety’ and ‘decency’ (so odd to find a discourse eerily similar to the morality of the RSS in a Christian minority institution!), no answers were given.

And a group of students took it upon themselves to demand these answers. Nightly meetings were held, class-to-class campaigns conducted and a vast number of pamphlets and other writings disseminated. A sample:

“Are we going to be passive adherents to the new rules that are imposed on us, indifferent bystanders who consider them unacceptable but don’t believe in voicing their opinions? Or are we students who believe that education and learning empower us to understand that this isn’t about our safety but a way of curbing our space and taking away any agency that one may possess?”

Or this (interrogating the discourse of privileges as emphasised by the administration – as in, you are privileged to be part of this college, you are privileged to have a hostel seat, you are privileged to have a microwave in your hostel even though you are locked in):

“The privilege of being under surveillance. The privilege of a pre-decided academic routine for my studies. The privilege of the knowledge that greater freedom is available right outside. The privilege of difference, as between apples and oranges, eggs and stones. The privileges have been far too many. Now for some rights. To set some privileges right.”

Negotiations were held with the student’s union as well to hold a general body meeting (GBM) with the principal on the specific issues of the girls’ blocks.

Apples and oranges, and eggs and stones

In the GBM, many students came prepared with arguments as to how the present system treated girls and boys unequally. We were stunned, however, when the principal cheerfully acknowledged that yes, they were being treated unequally, and of course it had to be that way – girls and boys were as different as ‘apples and oranges’ and ‘eggs and stones’. Reverend Thampu went on to give many more illuminating analogies – of one’s family locking the door at night, of an airplane where the doors were sealed, and so on, in order to explain to the students why locking female students in at ten and subjecting them to a set of rules different than for male hostellers was perfectly justified.

Following the GBM was a complete crackdown by the administration on a scale none of us had anticipated. CCTV surveillance was deployed with a vengeance. Interviews were held for residence seats and every single hosteller had to present themselves to be scrutinized by the principal as to whether they would receive residence or not. Naturally, a number of people were thrown out, many of whom had participated in the movement. The atmosphere took on a kind of sick fear (rather reminiscent of the Nazi regime) – students complained about other students in order to get seats, wardens gave the principal names of girls they didn’t like and – while I joke about this – at that time, everyone was truly terrified. We didn’t know if our parents would be called, if we’d be thrown out of residence, or if we’d be suspended. It was a week before the exams, and we were hunting for flats and PGs to stay.

But what killed the movement even more effectively than administrative retribution was the resentment and anger of fellow students. The campaign of fear and intimidation unleashed by Reverend Thampu radiated well beyond those involved in the movement – it affected the entire student body. Students felt furious about being threatened and harassed for what they saw as a consequence of the movement against discrimination. Even now, talks labelled ‘feminist’, or groups discussing these issues, are treated with no small degree of skepticism/suspicion/derision.


St Stephen’s is a sick place in many ways. I use such a strong phrase deliberately. The metaphor of disease is very useful in describing an institution that practices sexual discrimination with such deep determination. In a context where gender and violence is gaining greater space in discourse, the college administration refuses to pay any sort of attention to issues that both students and teachers raise. It refuses to be self-reflexive. It refuses to acknowledge that patriarchy is a real issue. I have heard statements like: “If the girls’ blocks are open, we’ll have to open a maternity ward” or “feminism is a disease that’s spreading far beyond where it should stay”. A recent development has been that the Gender Sensitization Committee of St Stephen’s College (at one point, it had filed letters to the principal against his comments in the GBM) is disbanded to be replaced by a committee headed by members nominated by the principal.

The other reason it’s a sick place is the administrative regime. Consequences to rule-breaking are arbitrary inviting punishment that depends on the whims and fancies of the principal Reverend Thampu. He does not consult a single person (a case in point is the recent suspension of a student for asking him a question regarding the banning of paper cups – the suspension was handed out on the spot without the boy’s head of the department or professors being consulted).

Ideologies such as those glorifying St Stephen’s are dangerous. It allows the creation of a space that stifles questioning and interrogation of its beloved traditions and customs. It allows a megalomaniac to treat students’ lives and values with complete arbitrariness, simply because everyone is thankful that they’ve gotten in to this hallowed college and wants to leave with a degree. It silences the most marginal voices under the all-prevailing twin discourses of ‘academic excellence’ and ‘quintessential Stephania’.

Of course, the issue of fascist administration is one that is reflected in the university level and after general elections 2014, at the national level as well. The culture of patriarchy is even more diffused and entrenched. Perhaps what enabled this movement (and many others) was the space created by the December 16 protests. What’s happening in my college – and in the university at large – is a whole set of autocratic, violent measures to discipline students and faculty. This will no doubt generate pockets of resistance. It’s important that these become broad-based.

The author is an aluma of St.Stephen’s College and has recently graduated from the college.

This note was originally published on the Gender Studies Group, Delhi University blog.

Also read: The ‘Honour’ That ‘Needs’ Protection: Why Do College Campuses Refuse To See Women As Adults?

You must be to comment.
  1. Jigsaw

    Clearly knowing that the 10 o’ clock curfew and other rules are set for safety purposes, you unabashedly question them.

    Will you continue to be intolerable or show some respect and accept that the rules are for girls’ well-being.

    The choice is yours.

    1. Akshat Seth

      Then why are three year old girls sleeping in their homes raped? Why don’t you keep that suggestion of yours to yourself for a change and not worry about other’s safety? The choice is yours. 🙂

    2. Ehsan

      speaking in girl’s favour blindly on each n every issue doesn’t make any stupid a hero 🙂

    3. krishna

      Really ? But is he speaking on every issue ?

    4. confusedNLUite

      Mr. Akshat we in NLU Delhi are having curfew at 6:30 pm. We are too from top law school of the country we have never question them why you useless stevenians questions these rule. Are you useless anarchists

  2. Green Lantern

    Comparing men and women is like comparing food and water.

    1. Paridhi

      Yes, it is, if you mean that both are equally necessary. And that without the two working together, the world can and will come to a gruesome end. And if you mean otherwise, just to clear this doubt of yours out, comparison is not a question here. If you don’t want comparison, don’t make rules that provoke comparison. If you think that keeping girls locked inside their hostel rooms is a measure for their own safety from men, why don’t we try locking men up? There’s no equality between genders, there’s respecting each and every individual and their space. Considering them as much a human being as you are. This is where the problem resides. The thought that you can judge a person if they can be safe on their own or not simply by their gender is just another attempt to continue oppressing women, and that too why? Because the stupid people of this country cannot provide us enough protection and cannot take responsibilities for the fact that they’re keeping half of their population locked up simply because they’re disabled in that particular respect. Such losers. And above all, it’s up to girls to take matters in their own hands now, seeing as many men here are nothing but supportive of this oppressive regime, maybe because they are not the ones having their freedom snatched away or being treated as infants. Or, simply, not the ones being shamelessly stared at, commented on, or worse, raped. It’s time we compared, because that is what oppressors are doing right now, comparing us to our male counterparts, showing the differences, and telling us that we’re not safe, because these ‘men’ cannot control themselves.

    2. French Samosa

      Well said, Paridhi. I graduated from St. Stephen’s and I know how things were like, there. It was incredulous because in class we were taught about the right- and the need- to question things, and not to blindly obey the rhetoric. But when it came to the girls there, it was quite different. My close friend was assaulted by one of the administrative staff while we were in our third year at the college, and instead of taking action, she was asked to keep quiet. It was all the more shocking when we found out that my friend was not the first person to endure this.

  3. Babar

    In schools and colleges all over the world, boys are punished severely for breaking rules and poor behaviour, and are often beaten, suspended, and reprimanded severely, while girls get away with a polite verbal warning for the same misbehaviour.

    There is no such thing as equality. There can never be.

  4. Babar

    During my school days, a boy who did not do his homework or forgot to bring his book would be left standing with his arms raised or sent outside the class immediately, while a girl would simply be told not to repeat it. Teachers are a lot stricter with male students the world over, while feminists make it look like women are being victimized. Men never raise issues over the unfair treatment, but women are good at making a mountain out of a molehill.

    1. Menna

      Well it is very evident that what you saw was discrimination but instead of empowering yourself to alleviate that sort of discrimination by working together with women in order there not be that sort of a society of punishment, you are penalizing women for empowering themselves in their asking of the alleviation of discrimination done upon them..
      And I think that by bringing this up you are complaining about the discrimination that you experienced, and it is something that left a mark on you..

  5. Rishita

    Had it been just about the “10 o clock rule” Leila, I would have said, that the authorities somehow feel helpless and make such rules, because otherwise the parents will question the security factor… we are in a very strange situation at this point of time… in the sense that, where on one hand safety measures ensure(not totally, but something is better than nothing) temporary security, on the other hand it just reinforces subjugation as an easy way to avoid something rather than solve the actual problem.. that way it is worse than a curfew because its a life long curfew…bring a rule which prohibits all men (we can handle the women who might rape or whatever as some people say) to hit the roads after 10 quoting something like “this is for the safety of girls and facilitating their use of roads, which is a pubic good, even at night” and see what happens… infact, one of my friends said why shouldn’t all the girls go out in like 100s and then let’s see who rapes… but of course for how many days can you do that… Nevertheless, we have a right to make our own decisions and its not like if there are no rules we’ill be on the road specifically in the night… infact I’ve never lived in a hostel and unfortuantely have alsways had to tell myself that i should be back by say 9 and not go out after that even if i suddenly discover there’s nothing in my room to eat… that’s bad and even though I wouldn’t be wrong if i go out and eat or whatever, i resist because soceity has forgotten to teach not to rape… because if i am out with people I trust and they either fail to save me or they themselves are the perpetrator, or I go out alone, its me who was asking for rape!.. its a very complex situation..anyway, as i can see this article is not just about a 10 pm rule, its much more that that… in fact I too have graduated from D.U and am pursuing my post grad from here, i do agree with some of the points u’ve brought up (I have never stayed in a hostel so have fortunately escaped some of these experiences).. like even my college was so up for feminist movements, but they are either non-chalant or do things just formality sake when it comes to the rights of their own students.. for instance, there’s this school near my grad clg (I.P) the students (yes, school students) of which regularly harass girls on the road, and some drunk men regularly sit outside the hostel (while the guard sleeps), etc… instead of taking action, some barricades are put for 2 days with a PCR van around and then its gone… so its not really safety concern but its basically that we give out a clear msg to the culprits (and prospective culprits) that we as a soceity are cowards… we take to the roads when something has already happened and draft new codes of conduct for girls to follow .. because we are helpless… so we try to control them… tha’s all we can do… but inorder that it does not look like we are cowards (most are actually oblivious of the fact that we are keeping the rape culture alive this way) we’ill tell women how they should be thankful to us for caring enough for them.. and since this is easy, let this curfew go on indefinitely and let people continue with their rotten mindsets because no body wants to change… and accussing girls of being characterless is also a part of the same “safety” regime Leila… no matter we fail to understand how, but it keeps the “moral fabric” of this country alive. and keep other girls on the right track.. so girls who choose to give away their right altogether are good girls but who for a change want to breathe are at fault unless you can justify using your FUNDAMENTAL right… and you cannot question the reasonableness of restrictions…anyway… now someone is talking about school going children here when we are talking about college… children’s issues are a very major concern right now be it safety, or corporeal punishment in schools… but we are talking about adults here who have a right to make their own decisions… I can think with a short term perspective for myself in the sense that is avoiding something keeps me safe at the end of the day, I’ill do that… someone else will decide something accordingly…. but as a soceity we should’ve kept a long term perspective…. I can choose but the soceity cannot dictate me, because I am not exercising my freedom to the detriment of anyone… the soceity should be setting right rapist mindsets because they are coming in the way of legitimate exercise of rights by others…

  6. Clifford

    That’s not even the Stephen’s Building….

    Just saying.

  7. Rishita

    and the school issue… which is not the topic though… in evry school that I’ve studied students and not just boys were asked to kneel down with their hands raised… infact theere instances of merciless beating of both girls andd boys which my principal conveniently ignored and lectured the parents in return… this culture like every violent culture needs to go. blending children’s issues into this is stupid… No matter how mugh we shout saying humanism should be the word, some issues are specific… and if blended with others will never be remedied..

  8. Sachin

    I don’t see why this has been taken as a surprise? These rules are existing in most of the colleges in the Southern part of India. Besides considering the recent surge of undesirable events in Delhi it only makes sense! It’s about time people decide what to whine about and what not to.Otherwise please suggest an alternative and then whine!

    1. Akshat Seth

      The alternative is that people like you stopped giving opinions on things you know nothing about. Period.

    2. Fem

      Its a genuine concern. The day you would understand that this is now whining but asserting the right for one’s freedom is the day you would stop posting such thoughtless ignorant advice.

    3. Fem


  9. krishna

    It’s not a surprise for me considering the kind of responses and comments i usually read on such kind of articles. I don’t know the basis of their theories but they usually assume things like this.

    1. A girl is not an individual, rather she is the property of a man and he has every right to do any thing he wishes to do with his property.

    2. Because men don’t get pregnant and our history showed that men being polygamous helped the survival of the species and not the other way around.

    3. the level of advancement or decline of all cultures is directly tied to the level of regulation of female sexuality .

    4. a slut is a bad news for the society.

    5. A women should be sexually responsible for the benefit of the society and men should be sexually active for the benefit of the society.

    1. Templetwins

      You are still sore from the pwning. In our times no one can control how much sex women should have, at best you can have an illusion of control, that’s all. But it is important to point out all the variables when comparing the sexuality of men and women, which is what I did. Women have the responsibility of a child and the rights of an adult, society at large give excuses for their mishaps and try to blame everything else, what else can you do, for criticizing women is ‘victim blaming’ or so they say.

      Coming to this article, this is nothing but the overt sense of protection that our culture have for women, this is a response for all the outcry from womenfolks about their safety, how society/govt is responsible for it etc. This is how it backfires, you can’t have freedom and safety together. Freedom without responsibility is mere recklessness and the society, administration will be blamed if such recklessness have a negative consequence, this is a result of female hypoagency backfiring on them.

    2. Rishita

      The assumption that most of them make in this case is that giving a legitimate choice is pointless freedom “more than what is required”…. freedom would mean we all will be out on the roads at mid-night or making out somewhere.. in these ways we “ask for rape” and then blame the poor society… and call them victim blamers…. gosh! I wish people conceived the idea that had the rapists being somebody’s son or a hosteler been subjected to rules.. had parents bothered to ask their sons as to why they where out at night things would have been different… I often see ppl giving analogies of animals… that if someone is an animal then u keep away from them… I think we cage animals most of the times, don’t we?? its ridiculous how people conveniently turn a blind eye to the actual problem… call your legitimate problems “outcry”, and instead of striving for change, lock you up and want you to be thankful for it… I admit I choose to stay indoors after a certain time but that doesn’t mean other should do the same..the other extreme is that there are corporate who do not want to give women an office cab after an over-time or when the normal office hours are late… no their being “corporate” is not an excuse…some people will say on one hand you want freedom, and on the other you want safety… Its surprising they don’t get a simple difference… that when I choose to stay out I am either with friends or at someone’s place… I will take care of my security.. but when its for work, I cannot call my group to accompany me like I can at other times… I think its completely unprofessional for a company to not take care of their employee’s safety even after they work round the clock… Someone might say why should women get this priviledge.. wait, didn’t they say that its not safe for us outside but they don’t have safety issues so they can stay out late?? Now who’s contradicting?? So its alright when its forced, but not alright when I choose…

    3. Rishita

      and while i make my choice, whether to go out or stay indoors, the society should take care that theiy are not nurturing a rapist mindset in their children at home..

    4. Templetwins

      had parents bothered to ask their sons as to why they where out at night things would have been different

      Because as a gynocentric society we tend to care only for the welfare of the womenfolks, let it be the ‘bring back the girls’ or ‘educate the girl child’ or so many n numbers of welfare systems, safety campaigns just for women. I can point out for so many girls who had been kidnapped, there were young boys who were killed and there is no social outcry, our sense of equality diminishes when we actually see the gender empathy gap in our so called striving to be egalitarian society.

      Coming to this point locking up all the men/boys is detrimental to the society, since society functions on male labor outside that of the home at a higher % of productivity even during the night time. You are also suggesting for parents to assume their own son could be a perpetrator while there is only few % of people who are predatory, while on the other hand that their daughter could become a victim has love n care in it, where as their son could rape someone puts their parenting in question, doesn’t it?

      I often see ppl giving analogies of animals… that if someone is an animal then u keep away from them… I think we cage animals most of the times, don’t we??

      Yes, but you can identify a lion or tiger or any predatory animal with its looks but you can’t do the same for the human animal though. A predatory human animal can look like you, a woman who looks soft and fragile but at the same time can be predatory, so yea looks can be deceptive. If a predator is caught he/she is locked in cages anyways.

      I choose to stay indoors after a certain time but that doesn’t mean other should do the same

      Yes they are free to go as well but society at large is blaming the administration if there is any unfortunate things happen to her, either she takes care of her own safety, where she would be treated just like a guy, no safety measures and complete freedom at her own cost, or be locked in doors. This is how the overt protective nature of the society would end up doing, I wish womenfolks would become an adult and take the responsibility of their safety like men do.

      he other extreme is that there are corporate who do not want to give women an office cab after an over-time

      This is my point exactly, if you want equality, you would be treated just like men do(ie no special cab just for women), you either want equality or you want to be treated like women, the later does come with safety measures which includes setting curfews for your freedom too. Make up your mind, you wanna be a self-reliant adult or a child who needs to be protected? The contradiction is in you taking your cake and eating it too and the reality is you can’t have it all.

    5. Rishita

      I think you completely, like many others fail to undrestand that this article is about being given a choice…. u know at first wen i read your comment on one of the earlier posts i really thought you are a very well read person… unfortunately u do all that reading with prejudices… anyway… I am not expecting parents to assume that their sonsss could be perpetrators.. but if being out at night (not for work but otherwise) is indecent or whatever then they should ofcourse ask them…. if questioning girls doesn’t put a question mark (while many presume that she might get pregnant.. etc.. etc) questioning boys won’t either… why shouldn’t one as a parent enquire vene about boys?? he could be drunk driving… and being drunk “makes” one do horrendous things as well as fall prey to horrrendous things… and… so that u do not have any difficulty in understanding the difference between being locked up and being given a cab back home, I had already explained the difference which you failed to notice… anyway to sum it up… that the society is unsafe for the female folk and children (both boys and girls included) is a fact… but women who are the age should have a choice when they want to go out with friends or whoever at night… at their home, or cinema or whatever… because she has judged who to be eith and what to do when she makes such a plan… however, i do not plan to do an overtime, but if i have to then the fact that i cannot have a group with me, i cannot choose, hence i should be given a facility, not necessarily at the exclusion of male colleagues… infact whichever office has a cab system it has for both… and men or boys getting killed… because being men or boys??
      the problem with people is they have too many presumptions.. they presume we’ill make out.. they presume we don’t understand our parent’s concerned… what they just refuse to see is that we assert on having a safer societyn return we want to see a change in attitudes, more responsible parents who know how to broing up boys and girls and not a lock on our doors!

    6. Rishita

      *correction- “infact whichever office has a cab, it has for both…. and do boys and men get killed because of being boys or men?” *”concern”…. ” and in return”…..

    7. Templetwins

      u know at first wen i read your comment on one of the earlier posts i really thought you are a very well read person… unfortunately u do all that reading with prejudices

      I take compliments/appreciation with a pinch of salt and your accusation as an effort to shame me to have the same line of thinking as yours. You are all that you accuse me of, you think women and children are in danger, while the statistics shows that men are the disposable sex, they are the highest number of people who are mugged, killed and assaulted, whereas women who are supposed to be adults, often lumped with children just to reinforce that they belong to a protected class, we often heard in the news, 12 workers including 3 women died in the tragedy. Somehow deaths of women are more tragical than the deaths of men.

      but if being out at night (not for work but otherwise) is indecent or whatever then they should ofcourse ask them…he could be drunk driving… and being drunk “makes” one do horrendous things as well as fall prey to horrrendous things

      I don’t know if you were drunk while typing this comment but like I said, this society strives on male disposablity (which is detriment for the rights of men), they had been sacrificing their lives right from the hunter-gatherer times and put themselves at risk for the betterment of the society. Going out and having a good time at night is a side-effect of such a social setup, whereas curfews for women also stems from the protective nature of the society on women and children(who were barred from hunting during hunter-gatherer societies). The only way women would have the same freedom as men is when they become as disposable as men or when mens livelihood and bodily autonomy is cared as much as womens. Until then this is going to be the situation.

      hence i should be given a facility, not necessarily at the exclusion of male colleagues

      I think in most of the IT companies, there are special kind of safety measures for women that includes sending a security in cab etc if shes the last drop etc. It costs money for such companies but they would rather do so than to face the wrath of media/society if any unfortunate happens to the said girl.

      Even if men were the ones who get mugged, killed and physically assaulted at a higher number, they are still encouraged to go out and travel at night to make a living and society at large don’t care about their bodily autonomy, when society finds women as a disposable sex like how they view men, you would get all the freedom too, like I said you can’t take your cake and eat it too. You get benefited from this society when they prioritize your bodily autonomy and gives you special provisions and safety measures but then you don’t like it when they put the curfews on you which stems from the same social set up. The only way to rectify this is to change the social setup but it also means you would lose all your special privileges. The reality is you can’t have it all.

    8. Rishita

      Well we can have it all becoz just like men, women do work in night shifts and if they want safety… they should.. being equal and being treated equally are two different things.. when its a well knwn fact that a woman will not be treated the same way as a man on the road at midnight then its fair to get an option which keeps me safe while I contribute my labour to the soceity… infact men/boys who aren’t even contributing anything get to make their own decisions…. my exercise of right is’t getting in the way of u exercising ur right hence u or anybody do not have a right to stop me… infact men (not all of course) on roads could do things that come in the way of legitimate rights of others… security cab?? I know of delhi and a bit of bangalore.. either there is a cab for both men and women.. expense being either fully borne by the company or part of it paid by the employee.. if at all any firm does provide a security cab, its a shame if they think they’ve to bear this “burden” becoz of media and not prospective rapists.. beisides IT firms and other corporates make the kind of money that they end up giving away reimbursements to their employees a lot more than the latter actually incur as they put up false bills.. a security cab wouldn’t matter them much.. besides its not only becoz of the money aspect that ppl want office cabs.. these cabs are more reliable.. probably you know only one school of feminism.. there is a feminist thought much prevalent now that talks about destroying gender roles to the extent that they force one to do something… a society which does not dictate u wat to do depending upon your sex….we don’t take separate coaches and cabs as previledges.. we feel there shouldn’t be a need for these at the first place.. but I guess we cannot have a rape free society… I wonder on what ground is the “priviledge to rape” granted …men are encouraged to go out at night?? Well there are day jobs and there are night jobs.. u are encouraged to, not specifically a night job… no body is forcing u to work specifically at night, and the risk of u working at night is not related to your being a man…. now there are crimes which are committed to victimise somebody because of the sex they belong to and there are crimse which are independent of the sex of the victim.. everyone is at the risk of being robbed/murdered… but except for some exceptions rape is committed on females.. because this discussion is about a legitimate right of an adult to choose, i won’t mention children… so if i hear that a gruesome gangrape took place it is behavioural to raise a concern… how on earth is that an “outcry”… i should still be able to claim my right, and the society has to better itself…we blame society because society indeed is responsible… these rapists have a certain kind of mentality because of our society…. if I choose to take responsibility while i go out with friends the society has a responsibility to be human… if they forget to, I’ill be careful, but nobody can stop me from exercising my legitimate right..if u read this article, u’ill know its not just about a rule … its about how it was imposed…. to have legitimate right o choose and be safe is fair enough.. men and women are different but no difference justifies taking away rights… not even providing labour to the economy… as a matter of fact women are doing even that wherever possible… day.. night… that shouldn’t pose any threat to me on the ground of my sex…anyway… the hunting gathering stage is a long discussion… because feminists and other ppl (not necessarily anti feminists though) see it differently…. women’s ability to reproduce and nurture (though even men can care) has been used against them very cleverly to make it look like protection all the while… to a certain extent it is.. when that care and protection comes from family… but beyond that the society only pretends that it cares with certain exceptions ofcourse..and ofcourse no body like curfews…evryone will prefer assurance and a sense of security while exercising a legitimate right..! and i am included in “everyone” as i am citizen of this country…anyway.. got exams .. signing off..!

    9. Rishita

      *news headlines read “so n so number of people died incl women”…. But what do ppl think or say to a woman who’s lost her husband or children who’ve lost their father??? and what do they say when a man loses his wife on account of death?? whose loss do they think is more??? the one who earns… the news emphasises that another baby making machine is lost… that is what they do… measure tragedy…deaths are always unfortunate…tradies are not to be measured…we don’t compete in tragedy… it is as painful to lose a husband/father as it is to lose a wife/mother..

    10. Rishita

      even where both earn… man is seen on a different pedestal… whereas to a family everyone is precious

    11. Babar

      Rishita, why was it ‘women and children first’ on the Titanic? How would it have sounded if it was ‘men and children first?’ In general, life boats are always reserved for women, why not for men? In the news, why do reporters say, x number of people died, including y number of women and children? And why are seats reserved for women in office, colleges, and politics? Why are men expected to leave seats for women and not vice versa? I know that you will either ignore my questions or beat around the bush with your reply.

    12. Templetwins

      Hilary clinton says, ‘Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat’. Even when men lost their lives, it is women who are primary victims, when a man dies, it is only a loss because he had a woman and child dependent on his income, he is not a human being but a human doing. Women on the other hand have intrinsic value for being a woman, that is a biological/evolutionary predisposition, what I do have a problem is when you still paint an advantage as an oppression, it downplays the disposiblity of men.

      being equal and being treated equally are two different things.

      I agree, that is why curfews are set only for women, they are still equal though but they are treated differently to protect them.

      which keeps me safe while I contribute my labour to the soceity

      I am not downplaying the roles of women in the workforce but society had thrived for eons while men alone was in the workforce and womens roles were confined to the homes. So men being forced into labor while women having a choice to be a homemaker or in the labor should also be considered. Hence setting curfews for men would be detrimental to the society, but society can still function if curfews are set for women. Do I really support it? I don’t, but I understand why they are placed.

      I wonder on what ground is the “priviledge to rape” granted …men are encouraged to go out at night??

      To rape someone is not a right nor a privilege, it is a violation of right, a crime.

      the risk of u working at night is not related to your being a man…. there are crimse which are independent of the sex of the victim.. everyone is at the risk of being robbed/murdered

      You are wrong about this, statistics shows that men are the ones who killed, assaulted and mugged at a highest rate when compared to that of women. It is because of the fact that men travel a lot during night and they are more likely to carry money (as they are forced into labor) and if there is a woman and man who is about to be mugged, the culprit would most likely would attack the man than the women, as men would pose a threat than the woman. These are the crimes which is based on their gender/sex.

      if I choose to take responsibility while i go out with friends the society has a responsibility to be human

      As an idealist you expect a crime free society, a society free of rape mostly, but crimes happen because of n number of reasons which includes mental instability, sexual repression, poverty and so on. Are you trying to rectify all these issues from your end? I guess not. You simply are concerned about your freedom and security and blame the society and govt and administration when such freedoms would end in an unfortunate situation, that is why society is setting curfews. The day society treats women like how it treats its men(as disposable), that is day society would give the same freedom to women as well.

      I feel you are right about one thing though that women gain intrinsic value because of their baby making ability, the advent of artificial wombs and egg banks would make women as disposable as men, which I am hoping for. You can finally be free.

  10. Divija

    Babar, I see you in literally every post about feminist and all you do is spew out vitriolic garbage. If you don’t like or agree with the subject of this debate, why do you choose to comment on every thing you see? Wouldn’t switching off your computer provide some release?

    Loved this article! Very well reasoned. I understand how difficult it must be deal with this kind of injustice. If I may be a *tiny* bit nitpicky, perhaps it would be better to remove the holocaust reference. I understand that this was a form of oppression but we can do without saying it was similar to the Nazi regime of putting people in concentration camps and gassing them to death.

  11. chriss mathews

    Please put up picture of St.Stephen`s college. That is definitely not St.Stephens.

  12. Niranjana

    This is a great article and it speaks about an issue I am very concerned about. I did a part of my education in VIT University (Vellore) and the rules in that university are much worse than St. Stephen’s. One can never grow fully in such places because of the cloud of fear always surrounding you. I think it is high time Indians learned that an adult female should be allowed to take her own decisions and be trusted to look after her own safety (just like the article stated). And this isn’t meant just for administrators but even many Indian parents. The law allows adults (irrespective of gender) to do whatever legal they want because our Constitution believes adults are old enough to take such decisions. If girls can marry, vote and be jailed at 18, they should very well be allowed to go on night-outs without permission! And remember, people desperate enough to do something will do so regardless of rules (for example, lie to their parents/guardians about where they are going or forge their signatures). If you are still not convinced, think of this. It is from men who these women are being ‘protected’ from; men who commit those crimes. So why not lock the men up? Does anyone jail innocents and put the criminals on road because the former could face danger from the latter? Then why apply it to women selectively? If our culture opened up and parents realized that dating and intermingling of sexes isn’t as bad as they dream, then we would see girls sharing more with their parents and consequently being safer. By running awareness programs in schools, we can educate young students so that they make more informed decisions. But it is *very* important that once they are adults that the decision remains their own. No legal adult likes being controlled by others and they shouldn’t ever be. And this includes women, people.

    1. krishna

      Glad that at least someone is sensible here.

    2. Rishita

      true…! but as they say.. common sense is not common… as a society we opt to be helpless and coward, but so that it doesn’t look like that we call it our concern for safety.. i can choose to stay indoors after 9 or 10 but that doesn’t mean i cannot choose otherwise… huh… i think my entire life is too short to make these people udrstand… i hope people actually read this article before commenting.. i am sure they don’t even knw tht its not just about a 10 pm rule..

    3. Babar

      Sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies are on the rise, and countless parents even in the West do not approve of dating and girls being out late at night.

    4. Paridhi

      Oh yeah, we totally forgot! Girls get pregnant because they date and go out at night! Not because of guys. Sorry, we totally forgot!

    5. Babar

      Yet again the blame game. Learn to take responsibility for your actions.

    6. Paridhi

      God, really?! Are these colleges letting us take responsibilities? And how are we supposed to take the responsibility for some stupid, desperate, horny little idiot who’s walking down the road and suddenly attacks us, even though we’re not wearing something ‘provocative’, as people who blame it all on girls call it? Don’t you see? Some guys just need a hole, nothing else! They would happily bang a keyhole, if possible! It’s not us, it’s their mentalities that are the problem. And think again. Are we ever considered mature enough to take responsibilities for our actions? You guys defy your own words. You ask us to stay inside the hostel rooms or wherever we’re ‘protected’ according to you, and then, at the same time, ask us to take responsibilities for OUR ACTIONS? How is it our action? If you don’t consider us mature enough to let us step out of the house or hostel, why do you ask us to take responsibility? You’re basically blaming it all upon us. And I see what you’re trying to say. “Don’t provoke men with the way you do anything.” Would you say the same thing to a child, since that’s what people like you consider us?

    7. Paridhi

      You know what, I think I’m gonna stop commenting back to you, because anyone who visits the comment section is gonna see what a blithering idiot you are.

    8. Babar

      Marriage is a rape of a man’s bank account, and any intermingling with a woman is taken care of by rape laws, which are in place to rape a man’s honour, dignity, family, future, career, and life.

      75% of rape cases are false.

      While in 2012, the acquittal rate in rape cases was 46%, in the first eight months of 2013 (for which exact figures are available) it shot up to 75%. Sources said acquittals remain high this year as well, accounting for around 70% of the cases. Legal experts say the high acquittal rates are because of a spurt in the number of false rape cases being filed. The observations of judges in acquittal cases also bear this out.”

      False rape cases on the rise

    9. Babar

      Actually, the 75% does not take into account the tens of thousands of innocent men rotting in Indian jails, so the figure must be above 80%.

      False cases behind Delhi’s tag of rape capital

    10. Babar

      Paridhi, a girl having consensual sex and then getting pregnant, as in the rising cases of teenage pregnancies is not a man’s fault. Please learn to take responsibility for your actions.


    11. rohit

      What you said only makes sense when a college is not held responsible when something bad happens to the girl. If the woman had been assaulted, people would be quick to blame the college. I know this is a common argument given, but still would like to post

  13. Nikita

    The points you raise in this article are very valid and deserve the vehemence. And I am not sure whether or not you are aware that similar rules exist for girl hostelers nation-wide. During my first year of college in Symbiosis, Pune, I resided in a hostel which had an “in-time” of 8:30 PM. The college hostel had the exact same rules as the ones exercised in your Alma-mater. You have made many good points and the loss of autonomy on your own-self is perhaps the most disturbing. It is cleverly hidden behind the thin veil of safety but in actuality it takes away power and authority on our own selves.

    1. Al

      The curfew in my hostel is 6.30, and we aren’t allowed to go out on Sundays and holidays without permission letters, just because we’re unmarried women.

  14. Just Saying

    The picture is not that of St. Stephen’s College.

  15. Aditi

    Great article! I’ve experienced this in several PG’s and college hostels. It’s amazing how an unmarried woman is immediately considered a ‘non-adult’ and treated like a child with curfews and rules about what she should or shouldn’t do. What’s even more hilarious is the way so many people on this thread defend these archaic systems. But it is a good sign that the system is being questioned. These are baby steps. The more we fight the system, the more hardliners are going to appear to voice their extremist sexist crap. But they will quiet down eventually. Look at how every state in America is slowly accepting gay marriage. It is slow and steady, with a lot of hate from extremist-sexists, but eventually good sense will win out.


  16. krishna

    “If the girls’ blocks are open, we’ll have to open a maternity ward” or “feminism is a disease that’s spreading far beyond where it should stay”.

    reply to Thampu in the language he likes to understand. :
    “there is something called condoms. Obviously you don’t know about it but i wish your father knew about them.”

    1. jose

      He is a Reverend, condoms have no use for him and is probably against his religion too, so he would rather advocate abstinence than the use of condoms (chuckles).

  17. Neha

    I agree! I’m a Stephanian too, and college was clearly not the best 3 years of my life 🙂

  18. Monistaf

    One of the main goals of feminism has been to perpetuate the victim status of women. This not only harms men, but women too as explained in this article. Feminists claim that women are strong, capable and independent, their actions however, doesn’t follow through. Deep down, feminists really want to make women believe that they are weak. They say that women are independent and strong but yet all they do is push for more and more women only legislation. The restrictions in place at St Stephen’s is a direct backlash to such political and ideological rhetoric. When you constantly perpetuate the victim status of women and expect society and government to take special responsibility for their security, you encourage enforcement of restrictive policies like what is described in this article because an ounce of prevention is better than a ton of cure. I personally would like to treat women as adults, capable of taking responsibility for their own actions, not some weak, incapable children that feminists are making them out to be. Women are not victims because of the society we live in, they are victims because feminism wants them to believe that they are.

  19. Jacob Samuel

    The rules regarding the girls’ hostels at St.Stephen’s College doesn’t look too harsh to remark that ‘something is rotten’ there. These are rules common to almost all the girls’ hostels in this country. What is the point in singling out St.Stephen’s? As a parent I would want my children to be in hostels where there are such rules. If gender equality is the issue, let there be such rules in men’s hostels too. Let us not imagine that a degree student is mature enough to enforce self-discipline when he/she is placed in a situation where anything is permissible.

  20. Robert

    To the Author of this article

    Question to the author: If you prefer spending your nights outside instead of your hostel then what is the point of staying and taking admission for hostel ?

    (Hostel monthly payment is cheaper than monthly rental in an apartment in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore etc. Their are thousands of poor students who prefer staying in hostel but didn’t get hostel admissions. I would like to request to all those ladies boarders who prefer spending their nights outside can simply vacate their rooms instead of complaining and take a rented apartment and you will have your freedom. This way “You will Be Happy and the College administrations team will be happy”.

  21. Tasha P

    If north campus is anything like it was when I started at St Stephen’s in 2001, I’m appreciative of what you’re calling “an oppressive regime”.

    If you don’t like the situation in the girls residence why don’t you go and live as a paying guest somewhere else? Or better still, rent an apartment with some friends, I’m sure no one will be able to curb your freedom if you’re living on your own. Individual choice and all that.

    When I read the title I thought this article was going to address the educational methods and quality of teaching at St. Stephens. Instead it is a childish rant by someone with no appreciation of the intentions behind the rules and no acknowledgement of the situation in Delhi: crimes against women in the country’s capital have been a media highlight for over 5 years now. Instead of spewing entitlement and ignorance, why don’t you acknowledge the reality of the situation and propose some actual solutions?

    Nothing good here folks. Skip the read and move along.

  22. Dhruwat Bhagat

    If you have problems with the Christian values of the Christian college that you study in, you always have the choice to not study there in the first place. Or maybe take up accomodation outside the college’s premises. Is that so hard?
    Why do you want to force your views and your interpretations of freedom and equality onto them?

  23. Ankita

    I am a Stephanian and I do not agree with you completely.Firstly,about the 10 o’ clock rule-how many of our parents will let us go out late at night in the dangerous, repeat, really dangerous streets of Delhi? Atleast mine won’t.And unlike our parents, the college administration has the responsibility of a lot more girls.Yeah some rules are frustrating but that doesn’t mean they are unimportant.I agree that they can reduce with the formalities for the leave applications a bit, but this isn’t enough reason to call the college a supporter of patriarchy.This is not Utopia, and men and women are different…(this doesn’t mean that they are unequal)..and I agree that there should be restrictions on boys as well.Even LSR(a strongly feministic college) has similar hostel rules, so don’t talk trash about our alma mater just because you are feeling a little rebellious.

    1. krishna

      Restrictions on girls is patriarchy.

    2. Niranjana

      I think the very assumption that adult women cannot look after their own safety is ridiculous. I think any women who is 18 and above and living in Delhi knows that the city can very well be unsafe for her, more so at night and in deserted areas. You think she would risk her own safety unless she felt the need to risk it sometimes? Single women living alone get raped and so do married women. Women get raped in daylight. One cannot always restrict oneself in the fear that something might happen. And women have every right to make the choice for themselves, especially if they are given the right to vote and marry and elect at that age. Justifying restricting girls on the basis that their parents would do is not fair either. I think Indian parents have more say in the life of their adult children then they should. Also the media hype of many cases (definitely needed but it has negative effects too) has caused parents to become even more paranoid. The only way women can feel safe at night is if there are a lot more women outside at that time. And such rules and restrictions prevent that. Women are adults, they should very well be able to make decisions on their own safety. Not letting that is discriminatory and wrong.

  24. sri

    The metros have indeed advanced! Here in Bhubaneswar , Utkal university has the deadline 6.30 for ladies hostels . I am searching a way back into my mom’s womb. :/ sick all!

  25. MajorBS

    I am assuming most of the students in St Stevens College are above 18 years of age. Lets consider them staying outside the college hostel in a house. No body can ask them to come back at 10:00 pm. They are adults and they can decide for themselves what they should or shouldn’t do. It is to be noted that an 18 year old student who is an adult, need not be required to have a guardian or parent (another adult who is supposedly repsonsible for the student) to be enrolled in School or to be a resident in its hostel. No other country has this practise but India. They do not need someone else to decide when they should get back. Very simple solution to security excuse by people endorsing the curfew is to get a disclaimer signed by the student before they enroll, that the hostel or its authorities are in no way responsible for any physical or mental harm that may be sustained by the students or his/her security outside of the hostel campus. In summary this essentially tells the authorities to relax, we can take care of ourselves outside, just keep us safe once we are inside your establishment. The requirement laid down by educational institutions in India about guardian is actually ridiculous. It is sayng that an adult (as per Indian constitution) requires another adult to be responsible for him, if he is to study in a college. Are you kidding me with that? It shows us the utter distrust and contempt we hold for our younger generation and their judgements. It takes away the responsibility that comes with adult hood and delays it till, late 20s which is quite frankly pathetic to see in a society

    1. Niranjana

      Excellent points

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