This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Aman Deep. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

What It Means To Be A Girl In Panjab University

By Aman Deep:

Panjab University is considered to be a center of excellence and learning, but when it comes to gender equality, its indiscriminate attitude towards female students comes to the fore in a very hideous manner. I am pursuing my Ph.D in the University, and in my 4 years’ experience as a resident in the University hostel, I have come across many incidents that seriously challenge all claims of “learning” and “equality”.

DSC00041

This Valentine’s Day, a notice was circulated in all the girls’ hostels dictating the wardens to keep the gates of their respective hostels closed from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm to “avoid any untoward incident”. The authorities shirk their responsibility by playing safe and making the students sign an undertaking to be responsible for any consequences. Unfortunately, the decision to hole the girls up in the hostels is not the first of its kind. The freedom and space of girls have always been invaded in the name of their “security” and “safety”. Recently, the gates were closed on the Valentine’s Day, but they have done the same during Holi. Earlier, in the name of safety, the girls were caged in the hostels from morning till late noon. Despite tremendous efforts from the students, the authorities reluctantly agreed to allow girls out only after they signed an undertaking stating that they themselves will be responsible for any mishappening.

The regulation and control on their lives starts immediately after the girls take accommodation in the hostels. The female residents are locked inside the hostels at 10 PM. It is ridiculous that there is a time limit to their movements even inside the hostel premises. Further, monetary fines are extorted from them over insignificant matters. The girls line up in queue everyday at 9 PM to mark their attendances as if they were prisoners, and the gatekeepers count their number. Second, it is mandatory for the female residents to make entries in a register whenever they go to their homes. If ever they forget to make entries, they are liable to pay fine. If any girl returns to hostel after 10:30 PM, she is forced to pay the fine there and then. Whenever the girls raise their voice against the time “limit”, the authorities try to justify their decision by saying that the girls are allowed six late entries in a month till 10:30 PM – ‘is it not sufficient?’ At night, the reading room of the library is open for studying, but not for girls! If they choose to go to library at night, they cannot return before 5 AM in the morning when the hostel gates open again. And the solution which authorities offer is to build a reading room inside the girls’ hostels, further segregating the girls from society. Even though girls constitute 70% of the total student population, their participation in campus activities is minimal. Their participation in even the Students Union elections, which is supposed to be a democratic platform for students to express their voice, is reduced just to add a glamour quotient to the election campaigns.

DSC00043

One must note that there is no such restriction on the boys. They can do whatever they wish to. The tradition of “gedi” near the girls’ hostels in the evening has almost become a ritual in Panjab University. The result is that serious issues like eve-teasing and sexual harassment are rampant in the campus and go on unchecked by the authorities. Ironically, more rules and restrictions are imposed on the female residents if they raise their voice against this.

Surprisingly, there is no check on not only the boys of the University, but also a huge number of boys from different colleges who roam around the girls’ hostels. The security guards deployed in every corner of the University also try to control and blame the girls. The University that deploys large number of security guards and police personnel for the girls’ safety in the daytime hardly seems to be bothered when the girls are “locked” inside the hostels in the night and the boys gather in front of the girls’ hostels, drunk, and play loud music. On the night of Valentine’s Day also, the authorities that had become votaries of “female safety” in the daytime and turned a deaf ear to the drunk boys who created a nuisance outside the girls’ hostels at midnight.

IMG_2746

To add to the absurdity of the life of a girl student in the campus, the female residents have to pay fine if they lose the keys of their rooms and require the services of the guards to break the locks. They are made to write an application and pay a fine of twenty rupees in order to enter their rooms again.

Perhaps this is not sufficient enough! The callous and anti-woman stance of the University again came to fore when, instead of addressing the root causes behind the rising incidents of suicides in the campus, it decided to install grills in the balconies of girls’ hostels. What’s more weird is that grills have been installed only in girls’ hostels, although there have been cases of suicides in boys’ hostels as well. The attitude of the authorities was appalling and shameless. The decision was revoked only when the girls protested outside the Vice-Chancellor office and undertook a room-to-room signature campaign against this decision, and submitted a memorandum to the Dean Student Welfare and the Vice-Chancellor.

In light of such iniquity, the students feel hesitant to even speak out their minds in the face of such discrimination on campus. Most of the girls refuse to understand the situation objectively. They think that they are in the campus only to build their careers and do not wish to get into any ‘trouble’ while they are in the University. Perhaps their fear is also genuine to a certain extent because even the wardens threaten the girls of dire consequences if they don’t comply with the orders. There is no democratic body in the campus to address the grievances of the students. We are currently conducting a survey on gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the campus. The preliminary reports convey that female students feel the need of a a democratic women’s cell that can address the problems of the students.

As we look more closely and try to probe the reasons behind these bizarre and ridiculous rules that regulate the lives of the female residents in the University, it becomes quite evident that the authorities also perpetuate the patriarchal and repressive structures that have always suppressed and exploited women over the ages. There is a department of gender studies in the campus, but even that has failed to impart rational and creative spirit in the students. All this is not confined merely to the university. It is a reflection of the same gender bias existing in our society to which women have been subjected, of the patriarchy which systematically operates to oppress women. They face discrimination in every phase of life, be it of lower wages as compared to men, their unrecognized labor in the agricultural fields, or their sexual exploitation at the hands of the landlords, contractors, and employers. Women are treated as second grade citizens who have lesser rights as compared to men. The cases of rapes, acid attacks, dowry deaths, molestation, etc. have become very common. Not only this, feudal values with religion at its back also provide the ideological basis to suppress women.

IMG_4442

Educational institutions have the responsibility to inculcate the ideas of equality in the students. It is, thus, unfortunate that a section of society is excluded from participating in any meaningful activity or decision making process only because the University is more concerned about providing “safety” and “security” rather than thinking about any meaningful methods to root out these problems. It may claim to be one of the best universities in the country, but Panjab University has failed most of its female students.

You must be to comment.
  1. Ducard

    How many parents allow their daughters to be out after 10 at night? Even at homes, both boys and girls have to be home before a certain time as it gets dangerous at night. Also, the university will be held responsible if, God forbid, anything was to happen to a student, so obviously there will be rules. If you don’t like rules, rent an apartment.

    Where is equality when boys are punished more strictly in schools and colleges all over the world, over the same behaviour and lack of work and attention in class. Boys are beaten, slapped, sent to stand outside class, made to stand with their arms raised, caned, and a host of other forms of punishment, while girls are just given a verbal warning – What happened to equality?

    1. swati srivastava

      how it is dangerous outside in night? Please explain. Are we living in forest where lion, tiger roam outside?
      Do you ever attended any college or read newspaper? The college students don’t get beaten by teacher. And for school student there is law to protect them. So if you come across any teacher beating student please file a police complaint instead of boasting about it here.
      And many times when something happen in university, they are the first to hush it up.And that is their responsibility

    2. Vibhooti

      well…10 pm is not such a time dat half an hr late should count for a fine. Women today also who work come till 10:30 or 11 n students r grown up to take their own decisions. This is not school, it is college. If there are restrictions for girls, they should also be for boys. Why discriminate? And on the issue of beating, probably u don’t know dat at many places even girls are beaten up severely in school and now as physical punishment is an offfence so it shouldn’t be used for any of them.

    3. ABs

      I don’t think that you understand the implications of any untoward incident happening to girls. If a girl gets raped, the University will be held responsible as it is they who have taken responsibility for the welfare and safety of students on their campus. If anything, this article shows quite clearly that the matter of the security of the boys is not taken seriously at all.

    4. Aditi Dankar

      Why not lock boys up, so that they can’t rape, instead of locking girls up so that they don’t get rape?

    5. Aditi Dankar

      I think that might also ensure the safety of boys.

    6. Aditi Dankar

      raped**

    7. manish

      Are you stupid speaking biased.

    8. Prashant

      Your second paragraph is not applicable to the situation mentioned in this article. The article is about the inequality in a particular institution, while what you say might be happening somewhere else. This is the wrong place to post this. Your post is thus absolutely irrelevant and meaningless.

    9. Ducard

      We are talking about inequality, so I’d say you get a new pair of glasses, or work on your reading, and perhaps you could have said the same thing to a woman’s comment here too, but then, sexist people like you thrive on double standards.

    10. Random_Guy

      Isn’t it dangerous for the guys outside too? Don’t they get mugged or robbed? Then why aren’t they locked up?

    11. SJ

      Why do you so firmly believe that parents have the RIGHT to “ALLOW” their adult daughters on what to do? You really do believe that its the best for daughters (not sons) to be locked up inside to “save them”?
      Why is it not dangerous for the guys to be outside?
      Stop perpetrating your “age-old-wisdom” here about univ being held responsible if rapes happen in their campus. They ought to be held responsible and are supposed to provide security campus wide. We have IIT and IIMs in the same country where such ridiculous rules would be trounced to death in a day.
      And where do you come from – boys beaten up in college? You need to get your son out of that college!

  2. Yashvi Malhotra

    I am also a student of Panjab University , and agree with every word of yours .
    I hope this opinion, brings about the necessary changes !

    1. SJ

      Hope you are doing your part too.

  3. anku

    Whoops looks like life is real tough for a girlie at Panjab University. From what I see it looks like your University does not know to handle co-education system. Maybe they can co-ordinate with other colleges and find out what they have to do about this issue.

    From what I have read it looks like they have no hiccups on you attending to and talking to and interacting with the other sex during college hours. Well is it not a positive to your statement. Also they are not restricting you from using your cell to talk to whom ever you want. Well there are many more points that can be added.

    Eve-teasing and suicides are very serious issues. I hope your college takes a tough stance on this. But collecting a fine is a bit of a joke. Your Warden needs to stop this craziness.

  4. anku

    Whoops life seems to be tough for a girlie at Panjab University. Maybe they are not very good at having a co-education system in the college. They can interact with other colleges to set things right.

    From what your article states they have not placed any restrictions on you interacting with the other sex during college hours. Also there seems no stopping you from using your cell phone at the hostel, which means you can speak to whom so ever you may want to. Well there are a lot of positives which can be added. Once you get hooked up to only the negative aspect then there goes life.

    Eve-teasing and suicides are serious issues. Hope they come out with strict measures to stop this from occurring . But collecting fines is a bit of a joke. Your Warden should really stop it.

  5. Tarika

    Every word resonates. Having been a hosteler for three years in apparently the best college under Punjab University in the region for women, I have faced this and more during my Under-grad years. From a thrice a week outing from 3 to 6pm, to constant lectures by the Principal over ‘how good girls ought to be like’. I might understand when people say that they can’t control all the wrong-doers thus the need to maintain safety of those who are vulnerable, but the constant blaming, apathetic attitude unruly restrictions over the simplest of things, no access to important facilities- all ’cause of belonging to the more-vulnerable sex? Instead of even beginning to explain the rationale (if there is any) behind enforcing certain rules, the authorities repeatedly lectured girl students about honour and morality so much so that even a trivial thing like a Valentine card coming in for someone or dropping back to hostel by a male friend was seen with raised eyebrows and the practice of calling up parents. There was literally nothing that the college encouraged for the hostelers except gossip and watching daily soaps.

    1. Guru Musafir

      one mishappening with a girl and PU no parents will send their children, you want to do things you love, stay at PG’s outside University, when your in the university premises, rules.of the university govern, I repeat nobody’s stopping you from staying outside the campus

  6. Mugdha

    girls’ hostels in AMU are worse!!! The entry time here is 5:30pm in winter and 6:30 in summers….we don’t get permission for late entry to even sit and study in our college’s library..and they have squeezed 6 girls in one room..how they expect us to study..i have no clue…no such restrictions on boys…don’t they understand that when girls and boys r in the same course they have to study the equal amount and thus should have equal access to resources…and even eve teasing is very common in our campus

  7. SARU SHARMA

    Girls have a lot of experience while they are a part of Punjab University. They may be good or at times bad too. But mostly if we talk of the good side of the girls’ experience, they have the best of memories from this college. From gedri route to Stu-c and not to forget the unlimited fashion, we get to see on campus, Punjab University is the best of all. Here are a few things you might relate to if you are a part of PU: http://tricitylive.in/5-things-only-pu-chandigarh-students-will-relate-with/

  8. Guru Musafir

    author writes : boys eve tease girls at gehri route, author says boys make rounds around girls hostel, author says girls security is a concern, when college authorities say sign and take responsibility of consequences of any damage to reputation of self, author has problem with that, what does the author want ???

More from Aman Deep

Similar Posts

By Namrata Vijay

By Sneha Banerjee

By Silca

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below