After extending the curfew timings for the girls’ hostel from 7.30 pm to 10.30 pm, Jamia Millia Islamia University has again rolled it back to 9 pm as stated in its new brochure. Not just this, it has also pointed that students cannot indulge in any sloganeering, protests and demonstrations against “hostel rules, regulations and timings” and if they do involve in any such activity then the university has the authority to cancel their accommodation.
A students’ body – Pinjra Tod
has called this move “brazen, non-transparent, authoritative and undemocratic”. They further said, “This is in complete violation of our fundamental rights to dissent and protest. The threat of expulsion from the hostel is yet another attempt to silence and criminalise the voices and resistance of women students, and a move to further increase their vulnerability and marginalisation in higher education. In addition, the administration has also imposed a closing time for the Inner Hostel Gate of 11.30 pm which means that women students from one hostel cannot go to another hostel. It needs to be mentioned here that no such restrictions exist for male hostellers.”
The University’s Provost Azra Khurshid, who had signed the referendum earlier in March to agree to the hostellers’ demand of extension of curfew timings, spoke to SheThePeople.TV and said that the referendum never had any legality attached to it as it was addressed to the Vice-Chancellor of the college and she signed it as the VC was travelling to Korea at that time and she couldn’t reach him. “We took the decision to calm down the situation as the girls’ were not stopping from demonstrations. They never came to us to make a conversation around the curfew timing issue. One night suddenly some 10-20 girls started sloganeering and then more girls joined them and the situation just went out of control.”
“We tried to tell them that we will follow a standard, have a dialogue and include the VC as well, in the conversation but they just wanted my signature in the so-called referendum which to save the situation I did. When the VC returned, he agreed to keep the extended curfew timing to see how it pans out and if we don’t see any problem then we’ll keep it extended.
However, we saw that the girls took it very freely and came back to the hostel by 11, 11.30. Our women hostel staff had to stay longer because until they take the attendance and make sure that all girls have come back to the hostel, they can’t leave. We had a silence hour between 10-11 where we switch off the TVs and maintain that girls indulge in talks, sleep or do whatever they wish to in silence, that was disrupted because of the extended curfew timing as few girls came back to the hostel by the prescribed time,” she added.
The girls, however, say that they had to put up a “long and arduous” battle before they could get the extended curfew time. They are in no mood to back down as they say, “The administration needs to know that the few hours of freedom and mobility that we had achieved, we are not going to give it up, we are going to fight this collectively!”
“We, women, are adults capable of taking care of ourselves and taking our own decisions. We deserve equal opportunity, accessibility, presence and visibility in all academic, political and public spaces. It is our right to attend public meetings, seminars and libraries at whatever ‘odd’ times we want. These are our fundamental rights and no administration can snatch them from us. Jamia administration will be witness to how much resistance we are capable of. We will not accept this authoritarianism at all. They should do away with it or be ready for resistance from our side,” said Pinjra Tod in a statement.
We women are adults capable of taking care of ourselves and taking our own decisions. We deserve equal opportunity, accessibility, presence and visibility in all academic, political, and public spaces. It is our right to attend public meetings, seminars and libraries at whatever ‘odd’ times we want.
When we asked Khurshid what are the curfew timings for the boys’ hostel, she dismissed it by saying that it is around 10 or so. “Our office is completely different than theirs. They have men’s staff who roam around in the campus till 12 at night. We have female staff who need to get back home by 10 pm. They went through stress in the entire one-and-a-half month of extended curfew timings. They complained to us about girls not coming in on time, etc. We can’t ignore their plea as well.”
On asking if a system can be put in place to ensure women staff reach their house with safety and hiring the staff that would be fine with staying in the hostel in late hours, Khurshid adamantly said that it is not possible.
Girls hostels around the country are facing this issue of curfew timings for a few years now and at the same time colleges conveniently have no curfew or late curfew hours for boys’ hostel which is an issue of bias and inequality towards girls. While they can amend systems in such a manner to provide the same curfew timings to students of both the genders, but it sadly remains extremely patriarchal.