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Jamia’s Show Cause Notices Reveal The Sexist Functioning Of Its Women’s Hostels

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By Towfeeq Wani:

On October 7, the provost of the new Hall of Residence (Girls) in Jamia Millia Islamia served show cause notices to about sixty residents. The notices demanded an explanation on what the students have described as “silly and absurd” charges which could result in expulsion from the hostels and denial of any accommodation on campus.


Interestingly, this came not even two weeks after the residents of the same Hall opposed the notice that made it compulsory for all the residents to be present at the inauguration ceremony of the new hostel presided over by the Union Minister of HRD. The notice was later changed by the administration and students were ‘invited’ to the event, rather than being forced to be present. At a time when women across the nation are fighting against the discriminatory and sexist hostel policies under the slogan of #pinjratod, this incident drew a lot of flak from all corners of the student community. Many students also wrote a letter to the Dean of Students’ Welfare for revocation of these notices following which “all show-cause notices issued till date” were cancelled as per a notice issued on October 15 by the new officiating provost of the Hall.

This incident serves as an interesting case in point to understand how hostels for women are functioning. The charges in the notices included “misconduct and rude behaviour, non-participation in hostel activities, taking leave for more than fifty days in a year, and being dressed indecently.” In standard cases, residents are initially given warnings, and failure to adhere to it results in show-cause notices being served. But students have alleged that no warnings were given this time.

Although it is not the first time that the residents of women’s hostels of Jamia Millia have been served show-cause notices due to unreasonable and illogical reasons, the numbers have never been this huge. As one student comically put it on Facebook. “The quality of show cause notices has always been like this, but in such a quantity we have never seen before.”

A number of students that Campus Watch spoke to believe that this whole incident was foreseeable. “For many weeks now we knew this was coming. First, we angered the administration at the time of the hostel inauguration. Then there was a salad-making competition in the hostel which saw a few participants,” an undergraduate student said.

“I have a lot of course work which keeps me too busy to focus on anything else, let alone a salad-making competition.” a postgraduate student from AJK MCRC quipped. “We have been paying five hundred rupees for a gymnasium, but there is no gymnasium in the new hostel at all. When we asked the warden about the same, she said we could certainly spare some amount for charity. These small incidents have formed the backdrop of this incident and serving show cause notices is the culmination of the same,” she added.

It is important to understand that it is the choice of the students to decide whether they want to participate in any event or not and authorities can’t coerce them into attending something they don’t wish to. Residents have also alleged discrimination time and again regarding the ‘fifty days leave’ rule, where a resident can only take fifty leaves. They say that it is discriminatory, and is never applied to the male residents of the institution. As for the case of ‘indecent clothing’, it goes without saying that it is sexist in nature.

“I wonder why we can’t serve show cause notices to the hostel administration and demand an explanation for the lack of the gymnasium facility, disabled water dispensers, pending rebate money, water seepage in the dorm rooms, and above all, the sexist and discriminatory hostel policies,” said another postgraduate student, noticeably enraged.

While “all show-cause notices issued till date” were cancelled as per a notice issued on October 15, 2016, by the new officiating provost of the Hall, this also meant that the previous provost, whose signature was on all the show-cause notices, no longer held the office of the same.

In a written message, members of #pinjratod described the withdrawal of these notices as “a big victory”, but termed the change of the  provost as a futile exercise and instead called for the implementation of the UGC circular which would “demarcate the exact powers of hostel authorities through a democratic process of consultation with all women students of the hostel,” as elaborated in the clause 3.2.16 of the circular.


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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.

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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.

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Find out more about the campaign here.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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