“Don’t know how I will handle street harassment if so much of training and conditioning is happening within the space we occupy.”
“Once, a friend who was visiting from another hostel asked me, ‘Are you allowed to go up to the terrace?’, to which a girl promptly replied, ‘B.A se M.A hi gaye hai, aurat se aadmi nahi bann gaye hai” (we have simply gone from doing a B.A to an M.A, we haven’t transitioned from women to men)
These experiences of students in Delhi University campus hostels are just the tip of the iceberg. Women in hostels around the country face discrimination when it comes to ‘in-time’ and ‘out-time’ while the men in the adjacent hostels roam around freely. When questions are raised, women face counter-arguments from administrators, who tell them that the ‘streets aren’t safe’, and to protect women, it is necessary to ‘lock them up’. Instead of making the streets safer for women by punishing those who perpetrate crime, women are locked up to ‘prevent’ crime.
The Pinjra Tod movement arose around this urge to ‘break the cage’ that immobilizes women and binds them to patriarchy.
The movement comprises of women from colleges in Delhi University, Jamia Milia Islamia, Ambedkar Univeristy, National Law University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, and grew out of a simple Facebook page, where female hostel and PG residents began sharing their bitter experiences with guards, wardens, principles, landlords and the like. Their movement has now grown to encompass colleges in and around North India, and this video by Pinjra Tod brings up conversations around freedom that women want to discuss but aren’t allowed to, because of rules and restrictions.
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