New Delhi: In the wake of a Jamia Millia Islamia diktat barring its girl students from taking permission for returning to their hostels after 8 pm, students of DU, JNU and Ambedkar University have written to the Delhi Commission for Women alleging similar gender bias at their varsities.
DCW had last week sent a show-cause notice to Jamia Vice Chancellor Talat Ahmed seeking an explanation as to why such a restriction was imposed only for the girls and not the male students.
Students and alumni of DU, JNU and AU have written an open letter to DCW chief Swati Maliwal objecting to "moral policing" and seeking her intervention for a drawing up of fresh norms for hostel residents at these varsities so as to ensure that the rules are not biased against girls.
"We wish to bring to your attention that such 'sexist' practices and regulations are not limited only to Jamia but are an integral feature of colleges and universities across Delhi and the country in general.
"Cultures and practices of moral-policing of women students by administration abound in these institutional spaces. Lack of adequate women's hostels in the city and steep fee-hikes in the existing ones make women even more vulnerable to such discriminatory practices," says the letter which has been signed by 265 persons.
The students alleged that "such discriminatory and restrictive regulations are legitimised through the rhetoric of women's 'safety' and 'protection'.
"The only way in which the state or those in power can provide a safe/secure city for its women is by locking up thousands of ADULT women in hostels and denying them a whole plethora of potentially enabling experiences and opportunities."
Maintaining that such rules are often counter-productive and put women at further risk when they are unable to return to their hostel at night, the students said, "We really do feel that a safe city cannot be built by caging hundreds of young women in hostels or just by installing CCTV cameras.
"A safer city is only possible when women, especially young women who are willing to challenge patriarchal norms and regulations, are able to roam around, inhabit and negotiate the city and its public spaces on their own terms."
The students have demanded that DCW "conduct inspections at hostels in Delhi and hold public consultations with women through which the issue of moral policing can be brought to the public domain, and guidelines that prohibit such behaviour or practices, with adequate mechanisms for grievance redressal, be issued to hostel/university authorities."