Before the eminent Hindu College reopened its women’s hostel to the incoming students, with the reduction in the fees and the elimination of incongruous rules that required the abiders to not stray out of their rooms after 11pm, wear “decent” attire and go on only one permissible night out in a month, along with the extension of the 8:30pm curfew, the college faced a number of controversies regarding the discriminatory fee issue. This concern was tackled by ‘Pinjra Tod’, a feminist student collective that works towards the elimination of curfews and a better lifestyle for women in the educational sphere and various other state bodies. In the face of this opposition, the fees went down by 30,000, but the women still pay double of what is paid by the men; where the men pay 50,000 and the women 90,000 and the curfew though extended still remains.
A similar case was observed in St. Stephen’s College last year where the authorities locked up the men in their blocks too as a justification for locking the women up in their blocks by 10:00 pm. Paying Guests function on a similar note where women residents are usually over charged and expected to stick to a fixed curfew, accompanied by the daily quota of moral policing. This makes it an imperative motion for us to acknowledge this menacing concern regarding the discriminatory curfew where the girls in most hostels are expected to get back by 8:30 but boys can show up much later or not at all. These inequitable curfews are justified by the authorities as cautionary devices, implying that locking up women would mean that they are secure. However, this aspect of safeguarding women by caging them within bolted doors could be seen otherwise.
It is important to note that the discriminatory curfews violate regulations set up by the University Grants Commission (UGC), that coordinates and maintains the standards of collegiate education and occupies the position of law, notified by a state gazette. The regulations put forward by the UGC speak of safety as being no excuse for restricting the mobility of female students. The University of Delhi has given recognition and circulated notices to colleges for the election of an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC following protests related to the suicide of a female Dalit student of the School of Open Learning(SOL) in 2016. However, this notice has only been partially admitted and no actions have been made to expel the restricted mobility of female students. The students have in no way asked for this restriction to be imposed on men alike; however, this prejudiced curfew has been acknowledged and neutralised by locking up the men as well.
The issue of biased curfews can be interpreted in various ways. The heads might rationalise it as a way of protecting women. When questioned, they often reply with “they signed up for it, so why complain?” or “the parents want it that way,” blatantly representing the ingrained patriarchal notions among people and the casual acceptance of overt sexism in public spheres. It may also be seen as a more passive-aggressive form of victim shaming that out rightly suggests that whatever comes upon a woman is due to her own risque nature so it’s best to lock her up. Women have been suffering from dysphoria and disapproval for the sole reason that they are gendered as females. Gender discrimination has stunted their potential.
The perception of women by society as archetypal temptresses is seen as a threat to the patriarchal order. Therefore, an effort is made to control the female sexuality by caging them behind locked doors.
The battle against this prejudice remains as various groups fight for it. As our fight for equality persists, it is important to realise that we are entitled to our freedom no matter whom we offend with it. Our oppression cannot be trivialised and the acceptance of the possessive and controlling behavior of our detainers cannot be normalised.
Feature Image Credits: The Wire