Concerns over student safety at prestigious universities are raised by the latest molestation incident at IIT-BHU. Students from different colleges question whether such institutions effectively prioritise security of its female students.

In recent times, an alarming surge in incidents compromising the safety of gender minority students has come to light in college campuses. Notably, such occurrences are increasingly prevalent in some of the country’s most popular universities. From instances of girls being recorded while they were changing at IIT Delhi during a competition to the distressing case at IIT-BHU, where a girl was undressed and molested; similar reports have emerged from Delhi University’s campuses, including Miranda House, Gargi College, and IPCW, where men forcibly entered gender-minority spaces. 

While the nature of these cases varies, they all raise a common concern: Are gender minorities genuinely safe in campus spaces? 

At IIT-BHU, an alarming incident occurred on November 1, where a student was molested by three unknown men late at night. This led to a widespread protest organised by students, not just for the victim’s justice but for broader concerns. 

“IIT-BHU shares its campus space with the main university. The open campus allows unrestricted entry even post-midnight, with inadequate checking and recordkeeping. The absence of a boundary wall and a lack of security pose a risk to safety. It’s because of these loopholes that the offenders in this case are still not caught,”

-A student from IIT BHU. 

However, the blame for the incident was wrongly placed on the victim herself, highlighting a double-standard whereby male students can roam freely at any hour while female students face restrictions and are held responsible for any mishap. It makes one wonder if the administration will ever accept their failure or not. These security concerns are not unique to IIT-BHU; they echo across various renowned universities. 

“Female students often find themselves confined to hostels during festivals like Holi and Diwali from potential threats created by men. However, there is a lack of measures to control and manage the actions of those who make common public spaces unsafe for female students. How will this situation change when the onus is always on the female and there is a lack of control and action on the people who create this nuance?”

-Shreya, a student from IPCW, argues. 

“While I feel safe at my college campus, the same cannot be said about the surrounding campus area, especially at odd hours. Cases of Eve-teasing, bag snatching, and stalking have repeatedly happened, and it is worrisome for students who have to be constantly vigilant while they live in such areas with narrow roads and less security.”

-Ananya, a student from Miranda House. 

While all-women spaces generally offer more comfort and protection, there remains a fear of outsiders violating these spaces. In co-ed colleges, where there is a persistent fear of the male gaze, posed by both outsiders and insiders. Students describe how they are constantly concerned about what they should wear, say, and do. 

“We can’t guarantee the behaviour of students at colleges because of the extremely diverse population. In many coed colleges, casual teasing and mocking are normal, and nobody takes any notice unless something really serious occurs.” 

-A student from Dyal Singh college. 

When examining the role of college administration and the police, students believe that basic safety measures such as security guards, CCTVs, and boundary walls are present on the majority of campuses. The lack of this has led to the recent fight of IIT-BHU students where they demand a secure campus with a suitable security method to track the entry of outsiders. Although, it is a crucial step forward, accounts from other supposedly “safe” campuses like IIT-Delhi, IPCW and Miranda House where these measures were breached, shed scepticism about how effective these measures really are. The fundamental question still stands: Are college campuses truly able to safeguard gender minorities, or are we normalising harassment in these seemingly “student friendly” places? 

It should be noted that resolving gender minority safety issues on college campuses necessitates a comprehensive approach that includes strict safety standards, heightened awareness, police patrolling, and a change in collective mindset. Regardless of the gender, it is imperative to establish a safe space for all students and ensure that the onus of safety does not unfairly fall on the victims.

Read Also: Women’s Safety in DU: How Safe Are We?

Featured Image Credits: Edexlive

Priya Agrawal 

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The Banaras Hindu University (BHU) has been on the boil following alleged molestation of a student on 21stSeptember, by three men and the university officials refused to take action and blamed the victim, instead.

What have been the circumstances?

The protest is on going for quiet afew days. This began midnight on 21st September, Thursday, after three men riding on a motorbike molested a student, pursuingBachelor of Fine Arts degree of the Mahila Mahavidyala of BHU.

The alleged molesters hurled abuses, passed lewd remarks, and touched the victim inappropriately only a few metres from where a security guard was present. The girl, the protesters said, cried for help but the security guard did not move to make an attempt.

The girl was traumatised when she reached her hostel. When her hostel-mates gave her assurance, she narrated the entire incident to them. Concerned over everyday eve-teasing and frequent molestation of the girls on the campus, a group of students of the hostel went to report the matter to the warden.

The girls complain that instead of listening to their grievances, the warden blamed the victim for the incident. “What were you doing outside your hostel so late?” the warden allegedly asked the victim as reported by India Today.

Infuriated by the warden’s moral policing and indifferent stand, the girls sat on a dharna outside his office at around midnight on  21st September. The women staged a bigger dharna at the Lanka Gate of the BHU campus on  22nd September, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Varanasi.

22nd September was a stressful day:omen from other hostels and courses also joined the protest. The protesters demanded action from the Vice Chairman,Girish Chandra Tripathi, who wanted to meeta few of the protesting girls in his office chambers, as claimed by the women. “What happens is that the VC calls around 10 students and warns them against raising their demands. The students are suspended without giving a chance of resting their case. The matter ends there. We are concerned about our safety,” Akansha Singh, one of the girls who was protesting, told India Today.

Later, BHU issued a statement saying that the protest by the girls demanding safety on the campus was politically motivated. This comes into light although, unlike Delhi University or Jawaharlal Nehru University, BHU doesn’t have a students union. Teaching staff too don’t declare political affiliations.

After the violence on Saturday, the girls took out a silent march. But the police apparently had an issue with this as well, brutally chasing the protesters away, allegedly with batons. Yet the girls continued to lead the march, supported by many male students as well. The demands of the students were simple – they want installation of CCTV cameras, proper lighting of the campus and gender sensitisation of university staff and security personnel.

Did the administration do anything so far?

Beside making sexist and discriminatory statements (In an interview to The Indian Express, Tripathi justified the discriminatory policies against women students, particularly with regard to hostel curfews on the grounds that, “security for boys and girls can never be at par.”),U.P Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath sought a report from the commissioner of Varanasi on the entire episode.

The government has so far removed five officials for negligence of duty and transferred them to other places.An internal inquiry, found them responsible for alleged disturbance and violence, thus removed to ensure fair enquiry. Meanwhile, 1200 students have been booked for violence.

Chief Proctor, O.P Singh, resigned from his post, and the government appoints BHU’s first woman Chief Proctor, Royana Singh.

However, this is not a rare instance in Banaras Hindu University’s history. According to a report by Huffington Post, there has been a surge in cases related to sexual crimes and harassment in recent years, ever since the current Vice-Chancellor, Girish Chandra Tripathi, took office. In 2016, there were cases of sexual assault, including gang rape of a male student and complaints of harassment made even by female faculty members. The frequency of such severe crimes points to the authorities and administration’s lack of seriousness in addressing safety issues. This is particularly the case with women, who already face a spate of curfews and curtailment of freedoms. Calling these restrictions ‘strict’ would be a understatement, for they apparently treat adult women like tender creatures of pristineness and purity, who shouldn’t go out to for their own safety. Consider some of the statements of the Vice-Chancellor, like “Consumption of non-vegetarian food makes women impure according to the Malviya values,” “Girls who study in the night are immoral,” and “Don’t think like a journalist, think like a father. Think of what ‘appropriate clothes’ would mean to a father,’’ upon being asked what constitutes “appropriate clothes” in this Youth Ki Awaaz interview, where his sexism is on open display. Through absurd rules like no phone calls post 10 p.m., no internet connection in rooms, and deadlines on venturing out, in the name of “protecting women”, they are being robbed off their freedom. Depriving a whole section of the society from thinking for themselves and allowing them the same freedoms as men is deplorable, and it is even more shameful when it happens in the constituency of the same man who tweeted, “Women empowerment is crucial to India’s growth. Days of seeing women as ‘home makers’ have gone, we have to see women as nation builders”.  Keeping aside the dismissal of homemakers for a moment, one is presumed to think that the way things are, “nation-building” will only be done till 8p.m. – the hostel curfew time.


Feature Image Credits: The Indian Express

Rishika Singh
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Ankita Dhar Karmakar
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The Delhi Police on Thursday detained nine students of the Banaras Hindu University, including a woman, who were on their way from Jantar Mantar to the Prime Minister’s official house to submit a memorandum at the Pancharipuri Police Station. However, no charges were being slapped against them. The students are members of the recently constituted Joint Action Committee (JAC) at BHU, who sought to make an appointment with the PM.

“When we could not get the appointment we decided to submit the memorandum to his Secretary. We were at Race Course when police detained us. We were simply walking at Race Course Road and there was no protest. We kept on asking them about the ground over which we were arrested, however, police did not say anything. I was made to sit in a bus even as there was no female constable with them at the time of the detention” said Mineshi Mishra, a BHU student. The students also complained that the police threatened them.

Senior Delhi police officers revealed the students had been protesting for the last three days. “When they tried to march towards the PM’s residence eight boys were detained and later let off and another girl, who was along with them, was released then and there as it was getting dark. We have not told any students to return to Banaras,” said BK Singh, DCP, New Delhi, as reported by DNA India.

Image Credits– DNA India


Ankita Dhar Karmakar
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