Mysore University Curfew: Why Bother Conditioning Men, When You Can Police Women

After the gangrape, will the Mysore University curfew rule for women bring any protection? Or is it just another laxman rekha to keep women in check?

Tanvi Akhauri
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The Mysore University curfew regulation for female students, following a horrific gangrape in the city earlier this week, supposedly sought to ensure protection of women. But was it really anything beyond a shameful mockery of their safety and rights? What end does going after the troubled instead of the troublemaker achieve if not a myopic enforcement of law and gross reinforcement of sexism?

With paternalistic authority, Mysore University reportedly issued a notification that instructs female students to avoid venturing on campus (not even outside, but inside the very safezone obliged to safeguard its pupils) after 6:30 PM. The curbs have been "issued in the interests of the security of female students," the Vice-Chancellor of the university was quoted saying. Latest reports suggest the circular has been withdrawn on the order of the Karnataka Minister for Higher Education.

That such a circular was even introduced as a solution in the first place warrants scrutiny.

It is striking, and yet not completely shocking, that no such impediment to the mobility of male students was imposed. This, despite the fact that in the Mysuru gangrape case, that involved the sexual assault of a 23-year-old woman, a man too was assaulted physically.

Is that not cause enough for the university to raise the alarm for men's safety too? Perhaps issue notifications, rife with concern, directing them to stay in with their female peers?

But we know that has never happened and probably never will because such measures of control are tailored solely for women. It is, after all, far easier to reiterate an oppressed community's vulnerabilities back to them and then burden them with some more than working intelligently, actively, effectively to ensure their fundamental rights are preserved.

The approach to women's safety in our country is as short-sighted as can be. This is not a secret anymore, made amply clear by how authorities in power have reacted to it over the years. From suggesting the installation of cameras and trackers that would tail women around at night to shaming the outdoor timings, clothes, lifestyles of survivors and victims: our decision-makers tasked with curtailing gender-based violence are far more adept at curtailing gender rights.


This cane of movement restriction that Mysore University has lashed female students with is an old technique in the book. A proverbial laxman rekha: a boundary slyly posing as something to keep criminals at bay instead of something that keeps women in check.

Premier institutions, like the Delhi University and IITs, have used it. Police use it to their convenience. Parents, guardians, landlords and relatives use it all the time.

One could well argue that curbs as this do more to encourage the rape culture than safety. Because it tells potential rapists and staunch advocates of misogyny that they are right in thinking and doing what they do. That roads, public spaces, dignity are exclusively theirs to claim and none for women.

If not attuned to the social drawbacks such restrictions on women carry, lawmaking authorities and institutions should adjudge whether or not regressive measures like curfew timings have yielded any gains in the past. Did rapes decrease in the national capital after colleges like Lady Shri Ram and Jamia Millia Islamia's levied hostel curfews on women students in 2018?

Authorities attempting to restrain rape, harassment, and other sexual violence crimes are looking the wrong way. Ensure better security at campuses. Introduce more checkpoints on roads. Invest in robust surveillance around deserted areas. Go after the rapists. Educate men about consent. Do what you have to.

But the responsibility of controlling (ideally, eradicating) rapes should not have to fall on the shoulders of women.


Views expressed are the author's own. 

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