Numerous victims wrote to us their incidents of harassment and molestation during fests.
The fest season has kicked off with the annual cultural fest of Gargi College, Reverie which took place from 30th January to 1st February 2019. Despite having a number of competitions, some of the best societies coming to participate, and a glorious celebrity line-up with The Local Train, DJ Zaeden and Prateek Kuhad, the fest failed on a basic ground level service of providing a safe environment.
Girls were catcalled, groped and grinded left, right and centre during not just Prateek Kuhad’s concert but during EDM night too. Samra Shahzad, a first-year student of Gargi College reported to DU Beat that a guy stared at her when she was dancing and came up to her saying she dances well, the look on his face was suggestive and horrifying, it certainly wasn’t a compliment. Several guys then, forced her to give them her contact number and became quite aggressive when she refused which made her feel extremely unsafe during her own college fest. Her friend pushed, scolded, and glared at numberless guys who were trying to get questionably close to her while she was dancing. DU Beat members faced aggressive masculine misbehaviour first-hand. Our photographers caught some boys pushing girls near barricades on EDM night.
Not only boys, but girls were also seen misbehaving and physically harassing other girls. An anonymous source commented, “I kept count. 4 groped me, and 7 touched me inappropriately. They were like- relax, that’s the fun about swinging it both ways.” There were no volunteers, administration or union members in the crowd to report such incidents to. The crowd outside the barricades was left unattended, at the hands of minimal security.
Security at fests is one of the most important duties of the organisers. While the entry was supposed to be closed at 5:00 pm, students reported that many people entered the college even till 6:30 pm. Even though only students of the University of Delhi, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, and Delhi Technological University were allowed, but students from other universities entered without proper checking at the gates. A student reported that a boy asked her if she knew someone in the student union to get back ‘some of’ his confiscated weed. The fest on-lookers also saw empty liquor bottles lying around the campus.
When girls at Gargi College personally messaged their own stories of harassment to the Student Council, the President responded by saying, “It is very unfortunate how the line of incidents went down even when we tried to make sure security is handled. We tried to manage our best but there were so much nuisance and many ill elements present in the field. In terms of checking, we shall make sure right people are caught hold of who didn’t do their work properly.” She also thanked girls who came up to tell their stories.
The irony is that the theme of Reverie was “A Brave New World: An Ode to Diversity” which worked on the principles of 3C’s, Consent, Choice and Conservation. Celebration of such empowering themes now stands ironically juxtaposed.
Students on the condition of anonymity have come forward with their stories of groping and harassment from previous year fests like Crossroads (Shri Ram College of Commerce), Tempest (Miranda House), and others.
However, the Reverie incident was only the recent episode of ongoing experiences of harassments in the college fests. On the assurance of anonymity, a final-year student of Miranda House accounts, “These incidents are so common in fests that over the years, you get used to them. There is almost never anyone to make complaints.” She goes on to add, “The fest organising team has to understand this as a major issue. Unless the weeding out of such acts is as much a priority as the fest itself, things will not get better.” Security and gate-checking should be one of the prerogatives of the teams to ensure a good time by all and for all.