This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Bipasha Nath. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Students Stand Together To Protest Sexist Double Standards At Hindu College

More from Bipasha Nath

Gathering in front of Hindu College to protest against the high hostel fees for girls, Delhi University students made several demands. The demands included restarting room allocation in the girls’ hostel and a uniform fee structure for both genders. They further asked for revocation of the show-cause notices sent to the 15 students who had previously raised their voice against this distinction in fees, questioning the motive behind keeping girls’ hostel charges at ₹1,22,500 per annum for the academic year of 2016-2017, while for boys, it was ₹57,900. The memorandum, signed by more than 300 students, failed to elicit a response from the officiating Principal, Dr Anju Srivastava.

The Protest

At the protest site, the aggrieved students spoke of how “an un-dated notice got uploaded to the college website, which called for applications from women students latest by July 22, 2017 (within a period of two days), along with an attached registration form,” as opposed to the systematic procedure followed by the boys’ hostel, where public announcements, registration forms, and room allocation take place without complications. While the net fees payable was revised to ₹91,000/- for the incoming batch of women students this year, the boys’ hostel continued to charge a significantly lower sum. The refusal by authorities to state reasons for this revision, as well as to provide a breakdown of fee structure (as is done for the boys’ hostel) displayed a complete disregard for accountability towards students who come from diverse social and economic backgrounds.

The college’s Joint Action Committee for Women’s Hostels, in their official statement, mentioned other methods adopted by the administration to curb students’ movement –“locking down several areas within college premises, ban on the presence of non-hostel students of the college on campus beyond class hours, heavy deployment of police personnel in its premises during class hours” were some instances which could threaten a free academic environment. Issuing show-cause notices to 15 students, accompanied by direct contact with family members of several others and accusing one female student of working for a terrorist organisation, has only worsened the existing scenario.

Students Speak

The college authorities’  refusal to be held accountable for (avoidable) controversies, while continuing to harass out-station students through unreasonable fee hike, displays deep-rooted apathy for the grieving side. Instead of ensuring a healthy environment that breeds intellectual growth, the college is adopting regressive steps to strengthen the existing hierarchy, with no space for redressal of problems faced by students. Emphasising on the “infantile treatment” meted out to the latter, Kawalpreet Kaur, president of All India Student Association (AISA), points out that “there is nothing wrong in demanding transparency from the administration. Delhi University is a public university, and accommodation is a major concern – how will a student from a middle-class background, or belonging to a marginalised community, afford such high rates of hostel fees?

In a similar argument, Madhurima Kundu, state Vice President for AISA, and a graduate from Hindu college mentions how the fee structure points to gender taxation, given the comparatively lower rates that the boys’ hostel levies. She elaborates by saying, “It is not fair to charge girls almost the double amount in the name of amenities. The University Grants Commission (UGC) had sent funds a long time ago, about ten years before, and when they were going to lapse, college authorities organised the hostel inauguration hastily. But for nearly a year and a half, construction did not start. It still does not have the clearance from National Green Tribunal (NGT). Why should the cost of living inside a Government institution be the same as privately-owned PG accommodations?

Debashree Unni, president of Ramjas’ Literary Society, believes the hostel rates to be arbitrary and unnecessary. Commenting on “the culture of violence that has gripped the University space” she appeals to students and different authorities to stand together, “especially when the issue is as critical as equal opportunities for men and women. Coming from a college where there is a uniform fee structure for both hostels, if not timing, I feel it is a basic request to have affordable rates.

Curbing Growth Through Curfew Timings

For obvious reasons, therefore, the scenario existing in hostels across the University encourages patriarchal notions of limiting the resources available to women, to stump their growth. This gets closely linked to a general inclination towards moral policing, by setting dress codes for girls while they are inside the hostel. By constantly forcing them to avoid wearing “revealing clothes”, and “behave like decent girls”, the authorities put more importance on attire than to comfort and personal choice. If both hostels and PG accommodations begin to impose high fees and curfew timing on girls, it affects the exposure that they receive on campus – be it academic or personal. Moreover, the rule for “one night out, two late-nights” a month (which was outlined in the Hostel guidebook for Hindu college last year), does not apply to boys, but of course does so for girls, clearly restricting women students from exploring more opportunities.

To show support for protesting students at Hindu College, several students from various colleges have released statements of solidarity. Students of Lady Sri Ram College spoke of how (a revised structure of) “hostel fee of ₹90,000 (as opposed to ₹60,000 for boys) propagates the idea of gendered subjugation. Not only must we link this to the recent trend of privatising the public education system, but also the systematic exclusion this entails. It is far harder for women to enter into higher education in the first place – discriminatory hostel fees make it even more difficult for them to avail of this right.” Students from Ramjas College called for “a unanimous refusal to accept such Brahmanical and patriarchal diktats.” The Women’s Development Cell of Miranda College emphasised on “standing for equality and justice and the right to a safe space not threatened by the perpetration of acts of violence and intolerance.

At a time when there is steady repression of voices of dissent on matters that question the integrity displayed by authorities, there is a need for students from not just Delhi University, but across the whole nation, to come together, and ensure that the practice of constant questioning and critiquing does not fizzle away. As seen in case of the protest organised outside Hindu college, where initially students from within the college were barred from joining the group that had gathered outside. With the college gates locked, it ultimately led to a combined walk till the gates of Vice Chancellor’s Office, where the memorandum prepared by the concerned students was read out, and after that, passed on to higher authorities for investigation. Corruption in the field of education only thwarts the general growth of a country. Nothing good ever comes out of silencing the student community – we form a major portion of the country’s critical thinkers, who, regardless of what certain authorities believe, have the power to improve the existing situation, and deserve the facilities that would enable it to happen – without any interference.

You must be to comment.

More from Bipasha Nath

Similar Posts

By Swonshutaa

By Swonshutaa

By Simran Pavecha

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below