Stephen's girls oppose curfew

Stephen's girls oppose curfew

Women students say they are locked up in their hostel after 10 pm

The gender sensitisation committee of St Stephen's College has come out against new rules for women hostellers which bar them from going out after 10 pm.

In a memorandum submitted to the governing body of the Delhi University college on Wednesday, the panel demanded withdrawal of the restrictions.

“The most common reaction of institutions to untoward incidents such as the Delhi gang rape is to ‘protect’ women by restricting them from public spaces and by imposing ‘curfews’. The outcome of such gestures is the continuation of a patriarchal mindset, which in turn undermines attempts at achieving gender equality,” said a hosteller.

“However, what arose in Delhi and cities all over India after December 16 was a resolve to win back these public spaces – to ‘reclaim the night’.”

The new rules say that no woman hosteller will be allowed to venture out in the campus after 10 pm. Night out letters sent by parents must now carry the reason for their ward’s night out, along with details on where they will be staying during this time.
“In addition, the parent must send a confirmation of their permission via a text message or phone call to the warden,” said a panel member.

“The application has to be submitted to the warden three days in advance so that the principal can scrutinise it and if convinced of the reason, provide his approval for the same. Also, only four night outs are allowed per month,” added  the member.

Disagreeing with the new rules, the memorandum said: “The first rule is premised on the notion that the campus is unsafe for women and that the only way of dealing with such a situation is to lock them up. There should be no denial to reasonable freedom of movement within campus to any student. Locking up women in their blocks is dangerous in times of emergencies and natural calamities.”

The memo added that the administration should not be concerned with the movement of students after they get parental consent. The committee members met the principal on March 25 to discuss the issue. They alleged the principal made sexist statements.
On gender discrimination, the principal reportedly argued that “one can only compare that which is equal or identical, and women and men, not being so, cannot be compared.”

A committee member said immediately after the meeting a new set of rules was introduced, including an annual reapplication to stay at the hostel. A senior college official said the move is meant to increase safety. “Even in the men's residence there is a 10 pm deadline. Some students are trying to make nuisance for no reason,” he said.

But women students said the men are required only to sign a register if they come back after the `deadline.' In women's case, they said, the premises are actually locked up.

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