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

What Students Say About DU’s 7.30 PM ‘Curfew’ In Women’s Colleges

More from Sakshi Jain

By Sakshi Jain:

I was as jittery as any other newcomer on my first day of college at Lady Shri Ram College for women, the sight of the college campus was somewhat different. From the confidence in the eyes to the unflinching standpoint of every woman on campus, it seemed like a new found female utopia. Words like women empowerment, liberation, change makers, feminism, patriarchy, and misogyny, fell upon my ears at regular intervals. As I got familiarized with these definitions, a sense of empowerment and self-reliance dawned upon me. The ideal world of a woman didn’t seem to be a pipe dream anymore. While an atmosphere like this is empowering for students in most girls’ colleges, there is one area where the idealism may seem to be falling short i.e. the limitation witnessed by the hostellers of women’s colleges, who bear the brunt of stringent hostel restrictions levied on them, which seem ironical to feminist teachings and milieu of the college.

For representation only. Image source: Cityduhub
For representation only. Image source: Cityduhub

Restrictions and rebels

Most women’s colleges in Delhi University have a curfew time of 7.30 pm with limited provisions (4 days in a month) of late nights and night outs. Minutes of delay could incur serious consequences of ringing up the parents of hostel residents and inviting wrath for the daughters. What seems saddening to me is the association of women’s character with such incidents. Much often, hostel wardens cast aspersions on students which seem unjustified. “In the name of security, they tend to infantilize adult women capable of making their own choices”, said one of my friends at LSR. Even the petty four night outs come with a whole set of complications. Students can only take night outs to stay with their local guardian and the permission process involves getting a letter signed by the local guardian. So, what if it’s your friend’s birthday tonight? Well, virtual participation is the only solace! Or else, brace yourself to travel all day to your guardian’s place to get the slip signed. And before you plan, don’t forget to estimate the unlikelihood of your local guardian supporting your cause because living in an ideal world is still a pipedream.

When I asked a male professor at LSR what his thoughts are on these hostel restrictions from the point of view of ‘safety’, he replied, “The inefficacy of the Government, the apathy of the State and above all a deep seated pervasive power politics existing in our society has led to a decline in safety. I think it is an incredible violence upon women to be treated differently and to be advised not to venture out at nights when the government should be keeping us safe and as adults we all know how to avoid danger”.

In fact, being a Journalism student at LSR, I myself chose not to stay in hostel as it would obstruct my access to a plethora of opportunities outside, that my course demands which I’d be unable to fulfill living under the restrictions. Making tough choices living under hostel requirements is a plight that many others undergo, as my friend, a female hostel resident from North Campus of DU expressed “I had to choose between watching my favourite play and attending a talk by the famous journalist P. Sainath since my monthly quota of night outs was going to end.”

The restrictions do not end with the exposure inhibitions. It extends to a level where women while going to the hostel mess are required to cover their legs because of the male presence there, said a hosteller in LSR. This really makes one wonder about the freedom of choice we learn about in college. Aren’t our rights being curbed against the perpetual and pervasive fear of the male gaze? This rule is in fact also unfair to men, since it puts all of them in neat categories of letches and potential rapists as Kavita, a second year student of Sociology Department at LSR points out.

It seems then that colleges like these only offer a peep into an ideal world, falling short of going all the way. College going women in India can vote to change a government, but cannot change the rules that restrict their liberties in educational institutions, added a student I spoke to.

The other side

Most hostellers at LSR, who concur with the idea of time regulation, provide a different angle of looking at this. They feel that by imposing such restrictions, the authorities aren’t upholding the established gender bias in our society. The idea of such restrictions is based on the lines of responsibility of the college towards the safety of its residents and their accountability to the parents of hostellers, said a hosteller in LSR. The practice of covering legs before entering the hostel mess can also be seen through the lens of precaution where the college levies this restriction to avoid unexpected circumstances of harm to its residents.

Arundhati, a female hosteller in the campus of Miranda interestingly adds, “The rules to be followed are for our own safety, the change must come in but it can’t be revolutionary. It has to be gradual for it involves change in ideology.”

What’s right and what’s wrong?

The debate whether such hostel restrictions in women’s colleges are ironical to the teachings of the colleges is one that is caught between issues of ‘safety’ and ‘gender bias’.

Personally, I feel none of the approaches can be designated to be completely right or wrong. From the perspective of an individual it is not wrong to feel deprived of the right to make one’s own choices. However, mixing and balancing this approach with the accountability that the hostel authority holds for our safety leads us to arrive at a conforming approach. Feminism as I see, might not always be about rebellion or to see everything through the lens of gender bias, but is more about analysing the contemporary situation and initiating smaller steps towards a change. Identifying hostel restrictions in women’s colleges as a deviation from feminist ideologies seems to then hinge on how each of us define feminism. So, this leads me to ask my readers, do you think hostel restrictions in women’s colleges are anti-feminist?

Leave a comment below or tweet to me @sakshijain29 with your thoughts.

Take campus conversations to the next level. Become a YKA Campus Correspondent today! Sign up here.

You can also subscribe to the Campus Watch Newsletter, here.

You must be to comment.

More from Sakshi Jain

Similar Posts

By Amrita

By Mohit Nimal

By Adnan Hamid

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