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The ‘Sexist’ Hostel Timings At Jamia: Is Safety A Concern Only For Girls?

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By Shaifila Ladhani

Every year, many students come from all over India to study in Delhi because this city has some of the best colleges. Jamia Millia Islamia is one of them. For outstation students, hostels are extremely important for many reasons. Adjusting in a new city is difficult already. For such students, a cheap safe and reliable accommodation is a blessing. But when this facility tries to dictate your life, what will you do?

Jamia hostels are extremely comfortable and have all the facilities, but one rule has created a lot of problems.

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Image source: Alister Babb/Flickr

According to a new rule, female students residing in the hostels have to be back to the hostel by 8 pm and no late nights are allowed (you have to get permission from your local guardian). “Residents of the Hall of Girls are informed that no late night is allowed any more. You are, therefore, required to follow the norms, in your own best interests,” stated a notice that was issued recently.

For a student whose classes end by five, only three hours for everything else is unfair. Students need to study, go out, interact with people and basically LIVE. What is the point of waking up, going to college and coming back and end up being caught in this cycle? Being a college student is not just about the classes.

It isn’t just about wanting to have fun or going out or studying, another major issue is the sexism. While girls have to do a lot of work for one late night permission, boys have no curfew time at all. The university eagerly mentioned it was for ‘safety and security’. If it is about the safety issue, what makes you think that boys are safe? Rape is not the only crime that happens in this city. There should be some guidelines dictating a curfew time for boys too. At the time of hostel admission, parents and local guardians are required to sign an undertaking, taking responsibility for their ward’s actions. The university prospectus has a disclaimer which says that authorities will have no liability towards the resident when he/she is outside the campus or when on leave from the hostel. Why then are they suddenly bothered about safety?

A friend of mine who was living in the hostel doesn’t want to reapply, but she has to because there are not many reliable accommodations around. “I won’t be able to meet my friends or do anything except going to college. This is a dictatorship!” she said.

Jamia isn’t the only one, many hostels around the country have sexist rules for the students.

VIT, one of the most reputed institutions has a curfew time of 8.30 for girls and 9.30 for boys (8 on weekends for girls only). Delhi University hostel deadlines and rules regarding nights out are rigorously enforced on female students. Men do not have to deal with any red tape to stay out.

These institutions are propagating the idea that female students are incapable of taking care of themselves. Sadly enough, the parents are generally supportive of such rules. They preach and teach feminism and equality, but rarely feel the need to apply these teachings into practice. Women enjoy only half the university life men do, leaving early for home, missing out on extra-curricular activities and campus events. Why can’t the campuses be made safer instead?

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  1. Monistaf

    When was the last time you heard of a man being a victim of a crime and making the headlines, demanding for more protection and creating awareness of crimes against men with a well publicized documentary? The moment these women can accept responsibility for their own safety and stop trying to get everyone else to do everything to protect them it will get better. Playing victim all the time has its consequences too. It is very interesting that instead of fighting for removal of curfew for women, you are advocating curfew for men!! Personally, I am for no curfew for anyone because these are all adults and must take responsibility for their own safety and live with the consequences of their own decisions. However, the reality is when a woman gets assaulted, there are protests all over campus calling for more safety for women and the blame gets passed around to everyone else, which is why everyone else reacts by enforcing curfews.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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