Editor’s note: This post has been translated from Hindi. Read the original post here.
At BHU’s Mahila Mahavidyalaya, an undergraduate student has been made to leave the hostel accommodation. Her crime seems to be her sexuality. The student seemingly identifies as lesbian and was reportedly disrupting discipline with her ‘sexual behaviour’.
Some students claim that she was never given a chance to defend herself and was asked to leave without any effort being made to investigate the matter or confirm if she really is lesbian. The question one has to also ask at this point is – has the MMV hostel always had a rule against providing accommodation to LGBTQ students?
While investigating the matter, I got in touch with Dr Neelam Atri, Assistant Professor and Chief Coordinator of the hostel who took this disciplinary action. When asked about more information about the girl’s suspension for being lesbian, Dr Atri immediately took offence to my use of words. “We don’t use words like these (lesbian), you should also mind your language. If you have women in your family, you would know how sensitive this matter is.”
She then went on to accuse the media of reporting anything without ever verifying facts. After much persuasion, she finally told me that they had suspended the girl for being homosexual and had every right to do so. Her sexual behaviour was allegedly hampering the entire hostel’s atmosphere. This action was taken, allegedly, after the administration received written complaints from about 30 girls from the hostel.
When I tried to enquire if the girl was given a chance to clarify things, Dr Atri refused to answer and told me to go to the Principal’s office for further questions.
Chief Proctor Onkar Nath Singh, surprisingly, had no idea about the matter because “there was no written report about it.”
The next day, when I tried talking to Principal Sandhya Singh Kaushik, she cut the phone saying that she had no interest in talking to me about this matter. However, five minutes later, I got a call from the principal’s office and was asked to talk to the Administrative Warden, Patience Philip, who said, “That girl is mentally ill, she has a psychological problem and needs treatment. Her sexual behaviour is exactly how a boy approaches a girl.”
To this, I asked, “What kind of psychological problem? That she is lesbian?”
“We do not use words like that, it is not right.”
“Oh, so she has the ‘mental illness’ of homosexuality?”
“Yes, exactly. I cannot tell you the kind of complaints I have received from girls at the hostel. At first, they kept quiet because she (the girl who was suspended) would threaten them by saying that she would commit suicide if they told anyone. Her behaviour was also inappropriate in class.”
Philip says that they tried speaking to her for about three to four hours in front of her parents but she denied everything.
Responding to rumours about the likelihood of the girl being expelled, Philip says that no student is expelled unless they are failing their course. “As far as the girl is concerned, we are more than willing to consider taking her back if she gets treated for her illness. Just think, she is from a village. Tomorrow if she says that she wants to get married to another girl, is that even possible? We are required to maintain a certain decorum in the hostel and we cannot put the others in trouble just because of one girl.”
Philip claims that girls had been complaining about her for a long time and that “her behaviour was concerning them. She would touch them inappropriately, stare at girls all night, even harassed one girl to get married to her.”
At a time when the Supreme Court has declared the Right to Privacy a fundamental right and slammed discrimination based on sexual preferences, it is important to question if the student’s rights are being violated in this instance.
However, it goes without saying that if the girl is truly guilty of harassing students, strict action should be taken against her. But is it fair to throw a student out without actually investigating the matter?