Moral Policing in Girls’ Hostels

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Read on to find out about problems like curfew timings, degrading remarks on clothing, character questioning by wardens and so on in DU hostels.

Currently, the fight against hostel administrations is on its peak. From Lady Shri Ram College in the South Campus to Daulat Ram College in the North, many colleges in the prestigious University of Delhi (DU) are witnessing protests.

The on-going protest by the students of Daulat Ram College is against the harsh treatment and derogatory language by the hostel administration. On several instances of seeing students wear clothes or make up which the administration does not approve of, comments like, “Dhanda karne ja rahi hai kya?” or “boyfriend se milne jaa hai hai kya? have been made. A student on reaching five minutes after the curfew timings was made to stand outside the gate for hours. Insensitive comments have been passed at a visually impaired resident of the DRC hostel on simply leaving her hair open.

Presently, no heed was paid when the students protesting outside from 7:30 PM to 5 AM were puking and fainting and were even refused water. Furthermore, the students left inside the hostel were ordered to be locked in their rooms by male security guards at 2 AM. What happens to the slogan of safety that the administration chants?.

In another college in DU the curfew timings are only enforced for the girls and simply forgiven for the boys. Even the security guards taunt the female residents by saying, “Late nahi ho gaya?” despite them taking permissions and following due process to stay out.

In Lady Shri Ram College, the passing of judgement on character continues but beyond that, extension of the unacceptable curfew timing of 7:30 pm is not acceptable under the grounds of safety and logistical limitations. As a result of the Pinjra Tod protests, certain changes and improvements have been made such as removing a cap on the number of monthly late nights, other goals of the protests still need to be met.

The pattern in all these cases and many more is how under the garb of ‘safety’ hostel administrations are perpetuating sexist mindset. Slut shaming for wearing skin-showing clothes, character questioning for returning at a time considered late, insensitive remarks have created a toxic environment.

This issue is not restricted to DU colleges only, but also to colleges outside Delhi. In the case of Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), the curfew for girls is thirty minutes prior to that of boys’ and in case of leaving the college an Akka ‘checks’ every girl’s clothing to be modest.

The same rules are not applied in the case of boys’ hostels. Moral policing of girls is not a solution to the problem of the unsafe environment but rather a means of instilling fear. The students of the University are giving a powerful response to break this cage.

Image credits: New Indian Express

Shivani Dadhwal

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