As the University of Delhi rounds up with this year’s fest season and amidst a political ambivalence in the campus, the ideals of safety have been fervently debated by those within and outside the ambit of concern. The festival of colours which is often diversified into forcefully putting all sorts of elements on other people is often misused to sexually harass women, and under a garb of festivities, their safety is breached. However, instead of addressing the source of the problem directly, two girl hostels in the campus have decided to do what the nation does best: locking up women, emotionally and physically.
The International Student House for Women (ISHW) which comes under the purview of the University of Delhi issued a notice which stated:
“Holi is a festival of colours. To make it enjoyable for all of us, following decisions have been taken in the interest of residents. Residents and female guests will not be allowed to leave or enter the premises from 9 pm on March 12 till 6 pm on March 13. No late-night permission will be granted on March 12 and those desirous of playing Holi should go outside the residential block within the hostel premises.”
The Meghdoot Hostel also accompanied the above ideology, with a notice which said that “the main gate will remain closed from 6 am to 5:30 pm on March 13” and that all students were prohibited from consuming “any narcotic drugs in form of thandai.” It added that the students must not return to the hostel late in the evening on March 12.
The decision has been cited by the authorities as an “arbitrary move” to ensure “the best interest of the residents.” However, female students who had already been facing constraints with regards to time restrictions and other policies, are enraged with this unfair imposition. Far from addressing the issue and working on ways to solve the matter, the solution once again lies in the confinement of women to avoid the injustice of sexual harassment. The rhetoric of safety has been mobilised by housing authorities to consciously bar women from celebrating a festival, instead of strengthening ways to ensure their protection during this period. “Honestly, I avoid going out around the time of Holi and the day itself anyway. It is extremely annoying and unsafe since people take the liberty of doing anything to you under the garb of Holi. The hostel thing makes some sense, since it in some ways acts on the same anxiety. But like I said, even without the circular which reiterated that I shouldn’t go out, I was in my right minds not to. So really, why do they leash us like we need it? If they insist on restricting our movement on the day of Holi, how about they lock the men up too?” said a hostel resident about the curfew.
Advocating along similar lines and fighting against the discriminatory rules and regulations in university hostels for girls, Pinjra Tod has been an active voice in raising concerns of hundreds of the residents. On speaking to a national daily about this diktat, they remarked, “The rise in sexual violence and harassment that women experience on the streets around Holi is barely addressed and instead once again, women are locked up for their ‘own safety’ and arbitrary restrictions are imposed on their mobility.”
Image Credits: Asian Age