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What They Won’t Tell You About Accommodation For Women In Delhi University

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By Dyuti Sudipta:

I come from a small town in North Bengal, and when I moved to the capital city to pursue my graduation from the University of Delhi, the biggest concern on my family’s mind was that of accommodation. My father was worried about my safety in Delhi for it being infamous as the ‘Rape Capital’, and he arranged for my stay in a place that had a curfew timing of 7.30 PM. I haven’t still figured out the logic behind it. Now, if this doesn’t seem ridiculous enough, let me tell you that this was just for summer (April to September). From October to March, the deadline was to shift to 7 PM. On days like 15th August and 26th January, the gate used to be locked all day and no one was allowed to enter or exit. Nice irony for Independence Day, isn’t it? And on Valentine’s Day, the deadline was shifted to 5 PM, and no one was allowed to take a night out. On New Year’s Eve, while our hostel owner went out to parties with his family dressed up and glowing with happiness, we were locked up inside. If someone was late even for 5 minutes, the hostel owner used to call up our parents to tell them all sorts of obscene lies. We were not allowed to enter late even when we had to attend college fests. All of the fests take place in the winter semester, and we had to leave the concerts halfway due to the curfew timing. In case of a night-out, girls had to leave the hostel before 7.30 PM because the gate once closed wouldn’t open until 6 in the morning. If one had a train to catch that would leave at 3 AM, she had to wait at the station from early evening till the train arrived at the platform. This once happened to me on a chilly December night.

Picture for representational purpose only Picture credit: Wikimedia commons
Picture for representational purpose only. Picture credit: Wikimedia commons

The day my third semester results came out, I was on the phone and a packet of cigarettes fell on the sofa from my pocket. One of the attendants picked that up, looked at me and reported this to the hostel owner. After almost ten days, my room was searched and nothing was found. At the end of the semester, I was asked to vacate my room. I moved out to another place where the situation was far better, and could finally start working and take part in all the activities that I wanted to as my movement was no more restricted.

The situation in the college hostels is nothing better than what I faced in that private hostel. The women’s colleges on campus have curfew deadlines varying from 7 to 9 PM. There are various other strange terms and conditions regarding taking maximum numbers of night outs in a month. Whereas there is no such restriction in terms of timings or night outs in most of the boys’ hostels or PG accommodations. The most horrifying thing about them is the lack of sensitization of the hostel wardens. One of my juniors studying in a renowned women’s college of North Campus faced the wrath of her hostel warden when she was just an hour late in returning as she was stuck in traffic. The warden called her parents up and said to them that their daughter was roaming around in skimpy clothes and was in physical relationship with multiple partners. Her parents, being from a small town and a very conservative background, were almost determined to call her back and marry her off at a tender age of 19. Her constant pleadings and help from a few professors have saved her future this time. Another of them was told that she was being provocative towards the male mess staffs as she came down to have dinner in a pair of shorts. In another college, a girl was greeted with, “Kiska bistar garam karke aayi ho?” (“Who did you sleep with?”) after she came back from a night out.

These are not scattered incidents, and keep on happening every day. We keep quiet, and that’s where we are wrong. We should report these cases so that the required actions are taken. The concept of safety has become so much discriminatory based on gender and the steps believed to ensure safety are often disguised under the concept of maintenance of discipline. There is no satisfactory answer for the lack of such measures in the boys’ hostels. The other thing that is necessary is gender sensitization workshops to be conducted regularly for the staff of the colleges and hostels. The authorities should arrange for hostels to accommodate outstation students. The Saksham Guidelines set by UGC should be strictly implemented in all the universities across the country that forbids the restriction on the movement of women in the name of safety measures in educational institutions. By restricting women’s movement, no progress can be achieved in any field, let alone education.

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  1. Srishti

    I had a very similar experience in my time in North Campus. My PG had the same in-time as what you described, and the owners would call up parents if we ever were late. I remember once discussing this restrictive regime with a boy from my college, and he said ‘why do girls NEED to go out after 7 in the night?’. I was extremely angry with such a response and realised that our wonderful education is adding almost nothing to our brains and to the way we think.
    It’s sad that DU is considered the best university in the country.

  2. ishita

    Panjab university and its colleges too impose such rules on female students. I study in a reputed girls college here and the plight of students in the hostel is no better than DU or you can say worst than that.We can only go out on alternate days, that too just being 3 hours from 3p.m. to 6p.m.(5:30 p.m. in winters). A minute’s delay and your one month’s outing would be cancelled. Night outs are a far distant dream,they tell you that you can take one only one night out in a month, but wait you can but you don’t until you make a million requests to the wardens and you are lucky enough if they find your reason for night out good enough.You don’t feel like going up to them as they very ill mannered and try to insult and mock you in every possible way.The procedure isn’t over yet, you need to submit a fax from your parents stating the reason and their permission for the night out.
    And ya I always wanted to pursue my bachelor’s from Delhi university but lack of girls hostels in the colleges I made into forced me to change my decision. And here I am suffering in a girls hostel of a girls college.

  3. aks

    i m really glad to tell u all dat i being an NITian i never faced such troubles. our hostel in time is 10 pm and there is no such calling to parents if we came late. we jst had to enter in late entry register and if we are nt frequent late comer warden wont even call to meet you . And during fests we are allowed to stay overnight if event is going on but fr this we jst need to report warden and tell them the issue. After hearing these extra strict rules i really feel bad for u all. being a girl dosent mean we dont have a right to enjoy wid frnds . its nthing lyk day is safe and night is dangerous. we can protect ourself as we are independent people . If we were out all night den y do u care we have our own mind and we can decide wat is good or wrong us . u dont need to advice us .

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