We’ve heard of colleges across the country where moral policing has reached new levels of intolerance. There have been instances where girls and boys aren’t allowed to sit together in buses, classrooms or in libraries. Again, we’ve heard of female students being suspended for consuming alcohol or staying out overnight. But right then, our authorities came up with a brilliant idea. Why conduct moral policing when you can nip this in the bud altogether?
I remember the moment I heard that the ladies’ hostel in-time had been extended. I and my friends had returned to the hostel from our dance rehearsals for our Independence Day performance. We had literally run to catch an auto and get back to our hostels in time so that we don’t have to pay a fine of 100 rupees each. As soon as we had finished closing our entries in the hostel entry register, the matron of our hostel beamed at us, saying that our in time had been extended upto 8:00 pm. Our worn out, tired, drained, exhausted, pale faces suddenly lit up. We were all ecstatic. It seemed as if it was our very own Independence Day. I, being a member of a handful of cultural clubs of the university found this change to be the only thing that we needed so that our clubs could function in a smoother manner.
The Independence Day event, VEOHM became a hit, credits to all the extra efforts the cultural club members could put in because of the extended in-time. But exactly one week after the event, we get a circular that the in-time of the ladies’ hostels has been reverted back to 6:30 pm. I read the notice again: “this is after careful observation for ensuring safety of girl students of the university after dusk”. This raised a number of questions in my annoyed mind:
- What careful observations?
- Who was observing?
- If you care so much about our safety, why don’t we have any light sources inside the university campus?
- Forget about inside the campus; what about street lights right outside the ladies’ hostels?
- They’re preparing us to be engineers with the mindset that girls can’t stay out after dusk.
- Have we come to this university to study or to serve a 4 year sentence?
I felt like I had been on bail for two weeks and now, I need to return back to serve my sentence. According to me, the decision taken by the university authorities implies that after dusk, the world is run by its male population. *smirks* I just can’t imagine what the world would be at if all women were to stay in after dusk.
It is ironical that we just celebrated the nation’s 69th Independence Day, and here, we have our freedom taken away from us on the pretext of ‘ensuring our safety’. We’ve heard things like ‘what will a girl do outside the hostel at 8:00 pm?’ and ‘which cultured girl stays out till so late?’ and so on. I have no answers, but only fully intended sarcasm in reply to questions like these.
Yes, Burla is not a very safe place. But then, we must also understand that weed grows only where we do not tread. Instead of keeping us ‘safe’ (read: ‘jailed’), it would be more appropriate if the authorities would rather ensure proper lighting of the streets and the road joining the hostels and the university. But then, why would anyone care about appropriateness when you have bureaucracy?
I am a female student of the university and I am fed up of the authorities trying to keep us ‘safe’.