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 An examination of the notion entrenched in our patriarchal society to place the onus of safety on the victims instead of curbing crimes or changing the patriarchal mindset.

According to the most recent government data for the year 2017, more than 32,500 cases of rape were registered in India, which comes out to around 90 a day. A lot of cases might not have been reported. In a lot of these cases, not to mention the harassment that countless women have to face on a daily basis, the one factor that is common are the instances of victim blaming that are offered by the patriarchal society as justifications. The idea of victim blaming in crimes against women is deeply entrenched in the Indian society, with the clothes the victim was wearing or the time she was out on the street being a topic of conversation instead of the lack of gender sensitisation, morality, or the brutality of the perpetrators.

From the countless instances during this year’s cultural fests across Universities, traditional safe spaces cannot even be seen as space. Even in these safe spaces such as colleges, hostels, and even homes, it is seen that the blame is shifted on women instead of addressing the root issue. A student from Indraprashtha College For Women (IPCW) and a resident from IP Hostel who wishes to remain anonymous narrates an incident from a hostel General Body Meeting (GBM). She says, “Along with our curfews and restrictions, we face this pressure to change and compromise our lifestyle to stay safe. In the GBM, a girl complained that the male workers stare at girls when we don’t wear a bra. Our Principal told us that its a hostel and we should dress properly and not wear shorts and wear a bra. So instead of making our hostel a safe space for us and checking the male workers, the blame was shifted on us.”

The idea is also engrained into what should be the first safe space, our homes. Varshini, an M.A student from Chennai says “My mom slut-shames me when my bra shows through my top. If I don’t want to get raped, I have to wear three layers of clothes in the Chennai sun. Comfort or safety is the choice I have to make.” This onus on women is something that women have been made to follow through fear instilled by the condition of women’s safety in our country and what they have seen growing up.

Recently, the nature of police in India and their brutality has come to light, with those who are supposed to protect massively failing to do so. This is also something that women have had to face even before it came into light for most of us, as Sakshi Singh, a student in Pune recounts a disturbing tale “This happened last May, I was in the car with my maternal uncle and we were going home, around 11 o’clock. These two girls on a scooty were riding beside us and looked panicked. They asked us to pull the window down. Then they explained how they just left left a party and two drunk guys are following them on a bike. My uncle was very concerned, so he drove alongside them, but the bike continued to follow, and they were shouting. They were even threatening the girls. We reached a junction soon, where there were two police officers. We stopped the car and told them the entire thing. The police just looked at the girls and said, “aise kapde pehen ke itni raat tak ghumengi toh hoga hi na” (if you wear such clothes and roam around at night then this is bound to happen), I was very shocked and irritated. Uncle took their names and complained to higher authorities later.” 

Without gender sensitisation, effective laws, lack of support, and an incompetent police force, women are left with nowhere to turn to. Women are forced to compromise their lifestyles and identity for basic safety. It is high time that the culture of victim blaming is fought back against and more emphasis is put on curbing these crimes through gender sensitization and teaching the concept of consent to men from a young age along with the government actively working to curb these crimes instead of putting the onus on women and telling them how to dress or when to leave their homes and come back.


Feature Image Credits: FreePressJournal

Prabhanu Kumar Das

[email protected]




Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) has approached the Delhi Commission of Women with a memorandum alleging that Miranda House has framed “highly discriminatory and anti-women” rules for the students of SOL.

Earlier in January, an unsigned notice put up at Miranda House made news for apparently “banning” women students of School of Open Learning (SOL) from taking selfies, brushing their hair and modelling, claiming it as wastage of time. Principal of Miranda House, Dr. Pratibha Jolly, later said that the notice was only suggestive in nature.

Recently, the Krantikari Yuva Sangathan, an association of SOL students, has approached authorities on Tuesday, demanding a written apology from the college administration and to stop the discrimination against women students of SOL. The memorandum also demanded that “humiliating treatment against SOL students” should be discontinued and strict action should be taken against staff members if found harassing these students.

An official from the Delhi Commission of Women told The Indian Express, “We have received a representation from students alleging that discriminatory practices being adopted by college and such a misogynistic circular has been issued. We have asked for a point-wise reply from the college on the students’ complaint within seven days.”

Previously, the students of SOL also staged a protest against Miranda House’s college administration for framing “sexist and discriminatory” rules and had submitted a memorandum for the annulment of the notice, effective immediately. While the notice was withdrawn, the college staff resorted to collecting identity cards of the SOL students before every class.

On Friday, pamphlets were being distributed in the Miranda House campus in order to encourage other students to join their movement.  The pamphlet stated that “Miranda House exercises an institutional bias” against the students of SOL. It also said that the selfies-ban notice was published only because of the social profile of the women students of SOL, and demanded an end to this discrimination. The KYS also called the notice an act of “moral policing” and termed it as “misogynistic.”

Image credits: Ifsha Zehra, Miranda House

By Anagha Rakta ([email protected])

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has set right to work this new year by issuing notices to Delhi University college principals for failing to take adequate action against the accused in cases of harassment and inappropriate behaviour:

The St. Stephen’s harassment case

On 9th January 2016, The DCW issued a notice to the principal of St. Stephen’s College- Mr. Valson Thampu. The notice questioned the authorities as to why there hasn’t been any action taken against the professor of the college accused of sexually harassing a student. In July 2015, a research scholar of St. Stephen’s had filed a complaint against her chemistry professor, Satish Kumar, under whom she was pursuing her Ph.D. She also complained against the college principal for not providing adequate relief, and rather shielding the accused. The chairperson of DCW, Swati Maliwal, urged the administration to take corrective steps in line with the Sexual Harrasment at Workplace Act, 2013.

The chairperson also asked the principal to refrain from showing any bias towards any party involved in the case and to stop making public declarations before the truth of the matter is revealed. The principal is allegedly defending the professor and calls the complaint filed ‘a diabolical lie’ on the assumption that an 85 percent disabled man could never sexually assault anyone.The DCW has given the college a week to reply to the notice failing which adequate action will be taken in accordance with the law.

Bhim Rao Ambedkar principal reinstated

On 10th January 2016, another notice was issued to Delhi University demanding an explanation for the reinstatement of the principal of Bhim Rao Ambedkar College. The principal was suspended for allegedly abetting the suicide of a lab assistant, Pavitra Bhardwaj. In October 2015, 35 year old Pavitra Bhardwajhad set herself on fire outside the Delhi secretariat as a protest against the alleged physical and mental harassment faced by her, inflicted by the principal and another staff member. The notice has been issued on the complaint of the husband of Pavitra Bhardwaj who is claiming that the principal is trying to create undue pressure for the witnesses of the case and is reconstituting the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for his personal vendetta.

The DCW has gone ahead to term the reconstitution of the ICC before its tenure and the reinstatement of the principal to the same post as “extremely disturbing” and seeks a reply from the authorities within seven days. As per the DCW notice, looking into the documents sent in by the Directorate of Higher Education and the allegations made by the principal against the ICC having ill intentions towards him, the claim of the husband is getting strengthened.

FIR lodged against a college teacher of Aditi Mahavidyalaya alleging inappropriate behaviour

A professor of the college Aditi Mahavidyalya has been accused of inappropriate behaviour with his female students. This was first recorded on 8th January’16 when a student of the college complained against the teacher’s misconduct towards her. A group of students informed the principal as well as the police but no FIR was lodged. As of now, 30 girls have complained against his misconduct. To urge the authorities to take this matter seriously, hundreds of students were seen protesting against the college administration and local police force on Tuesday. They were enraged with the delay of proceedings despite the abundant complaints. An FIR was finally lodged on Tuesday evening and a formal police investigation into the case has begun.

Featured Image Credits: www.dnaindia.com

Students from different Universities of the capital gathered for a jan sunwai in Jantar Mantar on 10th October as a part of the Pinjra Tod campaign. The jan sunwai vocally presented the grievances and the demands of this expanding group of students protesting against the restrictive and biased hostel/PG rules. The event saw eminent academicians and feminists like Piyoli Swatija, Uma Chakravarti, Mary John and Janaki Abraham as the jury of the public hearing. A representative of the Delhi Commission of Women was also present to assess the demands of this campaign. The Jan sunwai started with a powerful poem by a student of Miranda House. It was followed by a song, composed and performed by two male students who have also joined this women’s movement.

Students from different hostels and PG’s presented their cases of moral policing, sexist and restrictive curfew timings and issues such as the number of late nights and the concept of local guardians. These included residents of hostels of St Stephens, Miranda House and Jamia Milia Islamia to name a few. In addition, residents of private hostels and PG’s such as Aparna Girls Hostel, Undergraduate Hostel for Girls and others also voiced their anger against the oppressive rules and regulations of their hostels as well as the conduct of their wardens.
The speakers left the crowd as well as the jury baffled with their stories. For instance, one of the student from Jamia Milia Islamia said, “Jamia Milia Islamia requires their foreign residents to seek permission from their respective embassies for a late night leave.”  Numerous cases of moral policing and use of abusive language by wardens was also voiced by the students of Delhi University.
The discussion was followed by a powerful Protest Performance, called Khol do. This was followed by the comments of the jury, who found it surprising that the condition and the rights of women have not really changed over the time. Uma Chakravarti, revered feminist historian said, “The university treats hostels as the extension of fathers control”. Janaki Abraham also exposed, ” the paternalism of the new UGC guidelines “

It was also highlighted that the Pinjra Tod campaign is not looking for freedom in a Utopian world and that the models of free and egalitarian spaces are present not very far, in the residences of institutions like JNU. The Pinjra tod activits read out their charter of Demands and handed over a petition signed by over one thousand supporters to the representative of the Delhi Commission Of Women, Farheen Malik. The Charter of Demands along with the petition was accepted by Farheen Malik,who termed all the demands ” genuine”
The Jan sunwai commenced with both male and female supporters shouting slogans such as,

Pitta sapta dhoka hai,
Dhaka Maro Moka hai
Gulami se samjhota karna chhod
Pinjra Tod  Pinjra Tod
Hostel ke darwazay khol
Pinjra Tod, Pinjra Tod

The crowd dispersed after having danced to a Greek freedom song. The core members of the campaign thanked the supporters and also urged them to support the Pinjra Tod campaign in it’s future endeavours.

Read all about the Pinjra Tod movement here.

Photo by Uzma Rehman

Tooba Towfiq

[email protected]