As described on the Facebook page of the ‘Pinjara Tod’ (Break the Cage) campaign, it is “an autonomous collective effort” that challenges the existence of sexist discriminatory rules in most Indian University hostels for women, consciously designed to regulate their movement and freedom beyond a certain time. This campaign began in June, where the hostel authorities in Jamia Millia Islamia University Campus cancelled late nights for female residents and does not permit a curfew beyond 8 pm for women. University hostel hold the right to revoke accommodation privileges if a resident of the hostel fails to abide by these rules. In any other case, the resident has to seek proper permission from their local guardians and present it to the accommodation authorities.
Following this, the Delhi Commission of Women reprimanded Jamia Millia Islamia University with a notice questioning the legitimacy of these difference in hostel rules for women. The university has suggested that such rules are required for safety reasons. Many argue that such repressive hostel policies, archaic and patriarchal in construct, violate women’s fundamental right to freedom. Women have shared their past and current experiences of being morally policed and harassed by hostel authorities, should any of the rules get violated. Objectively, even though the library is accessible beyond the women hostel curfews, female student residents are unable to use this facility.
The campaign now has gained nationwide solidarity from prominent universities and colleges of India. Eminent political leaders like Dr Shashi Tharoor, earlier in September, was seen criticising women hostel rules of an engineering college in a tweet.
On October 8th 2015, 150 college students and supporters of this campaign held a protest at night in the North Campus Area of Delhi University, urging others to join this cause. The intention is to assert female presence on the streets of Delhi at night. As of recently, Jamia Millia Islamia University has ensured a revision of these policies.
The need for a campaign like this arises where certain university campuses have extreme “jail” like conditions for their students. A circular labelled as “special instructions for girls” was distributed allegedly by Sri Sairam Engineering College authorities. Some of these instructions clearly stated specific mandatory “dress codes” for female students. The rules also forbid female students to own any Facebook or WhatsApp accounts. Kavita Krishnan, a social activist and a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist- Leninist) Liberation, shared a post on twitter featuring this circular bringing the attention of many. The College has however, denied the legitimacy of such a circular, students confirm that these rules are very much in place.
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