By Shruti Sonal:
Pinjra Tod, a campaign that is fighting against gender biased rules and moral policing in student hostels of Delhi, heated up as two of its members filed an FIR on the afternoon of 22nd September against a person affiliated with ABVP. The girls alleged that the volunteer had called them up late on Monday and threatened them with sexual harassment for putting up posters on top of those of ABVP on the ‘Wall of Democracy’ at North Campus, Delhi University. Their posters were also ripped off.
ABVP, which swept all the seats in Delhi University in the recently concluded DUSU elections, faced the ire of students online. Even as ABVP denied the allegations, calling it politically motivated, the Facebook page of the campaign uploaded the exact words that they claim were used by the caller.
“Agar aaj ke baad hamare posters ke upar apna poster lagaya toh main toh maarunga hi maarunga. Aur aisi jagah pe marunga ki samajh aayega. Aapki abhi toh main respect kar raha hoon kyunki aap aurat hain.” (If you ever put your posters over ours again then I will hit you in a place that’ll really make you understand. Right now I’m being respectful because you’re a woman).
The incident has raised questions over whether the quite ironically named ‘Wall of Democracy’ belongs only to those who have political and physical prowess. The stand was made clear that each individual, irrespective of their political background, sex, caste or class, should have equal access to space to voice their opinion. Numerous posts came up emphasising that “walls cannot be locked” by a certain group or individual, thereby blocking the space of expression of ideas of others.
Some even argued that it is such narrow-minded men who misuse their political position who should be
locked up in a ‘pinjra‘ (cage) and not girls.
Students and alumni of Delhi University, JNU, Ambedkar University, Jamia Milia and NLU-Delhi who have come together for the campaign argued that such incidents are the very reason they’re fighting for gender equality. This incident throws light on the ailments of a patriarchal society that threatens to silence the women when they question the system. The very basis of unequal relations in society is based on the taming of women, by making them conform to regressive norms, under the banner of security and morality. While the image of Delhi as the crime capital calls for safety measures, it’s unfair that the burden to remain ‘safe’ lies on the women, by not venturing out in the dark. What’s even more peculiar is that the hostels for international students have no such deadlines, thereby raising the issue of whether it’s only the “bhartiya nari” that shouldn’t stay out late at night?
It’s a pity that the arena of student politics has failed to move away from the trends at the national level, where most of the challenges to gender equality come from those elected to power. It also focuses on how the university is often the victim of the belief that ‘might is right’, that leads students to lose its faith in the ‘dirty’ game of power politics. However, the ever growing group of feminists, strengthened both in terms of number and willpower, has showed that they will not stay quiet. As #PinjraTod gets painted on numerous walls around the campus, the message is loud and clear- safety is not a state where curfews prevent girls from moving outside, but one where nobody is afraid to step out when the Sun is switched off.