By Mridula Manglam:
Update, 4th March 2017: Last week, four girls from Banaras Hindu University spoke up against sexist rules in the University on a prime time show on India Today, a national television channel. Later on, Zee News, another TV channel, went ahead to say that they are defaming the institution. One of the girls who had talked about the sexist rules, told Campus Watch “We have a proof of everything we said. While some students are very supportive, a majority of our peers and teachers are against us. We are facing so much backlash, just for asking for our rights! One of us even got a rape threat.”
The Vice Chancellor has also said that there will be action against the girls who tried to “defame” BHU. This raises an important question- Is it okay to suppress voices of students when they stand for their rights?
India is a democratic country and has the world’s longest Constitution. The Constitution provide its citizens some basic fundamental rights such as the right to equality and the freedom of speech. These rights are considered above all other laws of the land. But after coming to one of the most prestigious universities of the country, i.e., Banaras Hindu University, I, strongly feel that the rules and regulations of the University are above the basic rights of the students. It becomes even more difficult for women as they suffer discrimination in every aspect.
For a woman, these rights seem just idealistic. Sometimes it feels like we are living in some part of the country where there exists no equality, no freedom of speech and no democracy. Being a student of social sciences, I have to study in the Mahila Maha Vidhyalaya (MMV).
I don’t have problems in MMV. I have problems with the MMV. With the whole concept of MMV being a different institute for women inside the campus. It directly reflects the discrimination meted out to women. The women are deprived of many facilities which are available in the Social Science department for men, which exists within the same campus. The women have lesser number of subjects to choose from. In the subjects which are available for them, there are not enough professors to teach the subjects. In most of the classes, research scholars teach.
Surely, every girl comes here with some dreams and aspirations but the administration here cannot provide basic security to the women inside the campus. This is the least a woman can expect from the administration of BHU. The women are advised to not move out of the hostel if they are concerned about their security. They cannot feel safe inside their own campus.
Yet, this advice of the administration takes a backseat when the time comes to vacate the hostels during the summer vacations. During that time, the administration forgets its advice of not moving out of the hostel. The students are forced to vacate the hostel with their whole luggage. No common room is provided to them to keep their beds. At that time, the women who are from distant places have to roam around the city and visit unknown localities. They have to visit lodges and find rooms for rent to keep all their belongings.
According to the Vice-Chancellor of BHU, it is “immoral” for women to study at night. Can a woman student expect anything worse than this? Being a woman student, I want to ask a question. How do you define morality and immorality? How do you differentiate? The men’s hostels provide non-vegetarian food to the men but there is no such option for women. How can you say that a girl eating non-vegetarian is against Malaviya’s principles?
Is this the right to equality the Constitution provides us with?
Moreover, the women are not even allowed to talk on the phone after 10 pm in the hostel. If they are caught, a finger is directly pointed on their character and their phone is snatched away from them. After reading this piece of article, a genuine question should arise on everyone’s mind. Why don’t the women challenge such policies of the administration and fight for their rights?
So, let me share one very nasty step of our administration. At the time of the hostel allotment of women, an affidavit is taken from the women as well as their parents which mentions that if the woman is involved in any kind of demonstration or strike, her hostel seat would be immediately cancelled. Is this the freedom of speech our Constitution provides us with? Is this a democracy that we are living in?