The on-going protest at Benaras Hindu University has led to the suspension of two police officials. The UP government sacked three additional city magistrates and two policemen in connection with the lathicharge on Sunday (Sept 24).

The protest kicked off last Friday after an alleged case of molestation involving a first-year student and three bike-borne offenders on 21 September. Girls of BHU are staging the protest in front of the main college and demanding better security from the administration. They are also venting ire against the authorities’ allegedly apathy and victim-shaming.

After the protests grabbed attention on social media, several collectives of Delhi also stepped in to support the BHU girls. They staged a protest at Jantar Mantar on Monday (Sept 25) and North Campus of Delhi University.

Reportedly, the girl who reported the case to the Triveni Hostel Management warden was victim-shamed not just by the warden but also by the University’s VC. The VC, Girish Chandra Tripathi, allegedly tried to shut the girls off by telling them to not protest because PM Modi visited the city at the same time.

A PhD student from BHU, Surabhi Jiwrajka, told SheThePeople.TV earlier about the state of safety in the university. “In the campus we expect security, but at the same time we cannot move around safely. The library is open till 11 pm but it is an unwritten rule that the girls should leave by 8.30 pm. You cannot find a single girl in the library after 8.30 pm while boys sit till 11 pm.”

Now the protest has broken boundaries of Varanasi and has travelled to the capital city where collectives like Pinjra Tod and AISA are holding protests in solidarity with the BHU girls.

Kawalpreet Kaur of AISA said they stood with BHU girls because it’s not their fight alone. “We staged a protest on Jantar Mantar on Monday. And students from all universities participated in it. We want to give out a message that whatever in happening at BHU is actually a lesson for all universities.”

She added, “It is very necessary to outrage because if you see today, a lot of victim-shaming is still happening even after so much awareness. University VCs ask girls why did they even venture out of hostel after 6 pm. There is no provision for girls to report cases. JNU had GSCASH, but their authorities are trying to do away with that too.”

“We are demanding an autonomous body set up in all universities where women can report cases of harassment,” Kawalpreet said.

Pinjra Tod also staged a protest in solidarity with BHU girls. We spoke to a member who said, “The point of our struggle is similar and this is not an isolated incident. And in recent times, a few other cases of discrimination against women have come forth from the university.”

She said that recently another similar movement was developing in BHU against curfew timings of girls’ hostel. “Rolling back of curfew is not an abstract demand. It is coming from an acknowledgement of safety that the colleges must ensure. But how does one attain it in a campus? It is not through locking women up inside closed doors but by bringing up legit safety measures.

It is high time women got a secure environment at educational institutions!

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