It was a couple of years back that young women on the campus of India’s most happening university were realising that the essence of freedom lies in exercising it. Young women started what they called the Pinjra Tod Movement against the restrictions put on women to walk out of their hostels and PGs after a certain point in the evening.
They were not a bunch of young women questioning just the restrictions of a housing institution; they were essentially questioning the very nature of that security itself. Young women had declared that they didn’t want to be the sacrificial animal that is fed well before being finally maimed for maintaining a patriarchal order.
They fought, suffered humiliation and harassment, they were groped, beaten and challenged, yet they stood furiously on the front to fight, declaring that the women they were trying to suppress didn’t live in the body, they lived in the ideas of progress and a better future. These young women had already broken the chains which the hands of the groper thought to tighten to tame.
Today, when I walk down North Campus, I see young girls enjoying and breathing in the free campus air, I feel delighted to see young women embracing this campus, a place of learning and a feminist upbringing. If I were a parent I wouldn’t hesitate before encouraging my child to study in DU – such is the safety we have to maintain.
DU, AUD, JNU have been among the safest and gender-sensitive places in India and this safety and sensitivity is hard-earned. Here, the young generation realises that men and women are not necessarily bound by relations of sexuality but sociality. A campus where women can breathe and own the spaces created by their own choices. Even though one cannot forget the abominable kind of events that just took place in Mukherjee Nagar, but at least we can be clear as to what is our fight is for, in the light of these events.
The way Miranda House students stood against the ABVP in the campus has shown us that gender will be the force to reckon with in India’s new future and the narrative of the nation might need to reinvent the dubious category of Bharat Mata. Only women can provide strong resistance against authoritative government actions and contribute particularly in keeping these campuses gender sensitive and safe for women. Aishe’s victory in JNU is not only symbolic of this recent history of gender-aware politics, but also a necessary pedestal to channelize our powers to manifest this awareness alive.