Hit the streets in celebration
We don’t need false protection
You can’t cage half the nation
It’s time to #PinjraTod
Over the last one month, the equal rights campaign, ‘Pinjra Tod’, has been gaining momentum, be it through posters, gatherings, songs, graffiti or the good old signature campaign. An autonomous collective of female students and alumni from different colleges in Delhi, ‘Pinjra Tod’, has given many a platform to voice their angst against gender-discriminatory rules in hostels and paying guest accommodations of the infamous National Capital Region.
Paying tribute to the long history of women’s and queer rights activism, these girls have moved forward in their crusade, despite criticism by status-quoists, fear of patriarchal college administration, threats by the perennially-insensitive right wing outfits and the ridiculously arbitrary restrictions on their mobility. With the ultimate aim of holding a public hearing at Jantar Mantar on the 10th of October, and submitting a petition to the Delhi Commission for Women, the collective has been steadfast in critiquing the inhuman rules- all of which are violations of basic civil rights- that are imposed on adult women by institutions and even private lodgings, all in the name of ‘protecting’ the former.
Whether it is the moral policing and violence by wardens/landlords, caps on ‘night outs’ (whereby girls can only spend a limited number of nights out of their allotted rooms, and that too only after permission is granted to them, in writing, by either their parents or their local guardians), evening/night curfews, or being locked in during ‘dangerous’ festivals like Holi, women in the capital are made to feel like infants, who neither have rights over their own bodies, nor intelligence enough to take decisions for their own selves.
None of these patriarchal rules, that are meant to keep female students ‘safe’, are based on any research/survey of practices and methods of maintaining law and order, and/or preventing crimes of a sexual nature. All these grand academic establishments are operating on the simplistic misogynist principle of ‘Vagina Causes Rape. Lock up Vagina = No Rape’, and the PGs are merely following suit. In fact, there is, in addition to the preposterous assumption of ‘safe keeping’, the other countless pathetic arguments of preserving ‘decency’, ‘culture’ and ‘tradition’- all concepts that these allegedly-intellectual institutions should know better than to accept uncritically.
With the family, the principal and the random stranger on the road, all following the same Stone Age rhetoric of caging women ‘for their own good’, the female student has nowhere to go (rather literally). Instead of being encouraged for her quest towards education, she is being punished for the mere act of existing, and ‘Pinjra Tod’ hopes to put a stop to this.
Image Credits: indianexpress.com
Guest Post for DU Beat by Aina Singh