Student activist group Pinjratod Monday welcomed the notices issued by the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) to 23 registered universities in the capital, asking them to provide information on hostel related matters. The notices were issued on the basis of a report submitted by Pinjratod, alleging gender discrimination in university hostels.
Addressing a press conference at the Indian Women’s Press Corps, Pinjratod activists said it was “the first time that a government has recognised hostel rules as discriminatory”.
“By issuing these orders the DCW has challenged the constitutionality of hostel rules. If the universities do not take the DCW seriously on this matter and do not respond, it would be clear that they do not take the issue of gender parity seriously,” said Subhashini from Pinjratod.
“In the report we submitted to the DCW, we mentioned how in most universities, except JNU, curfew timings don’t apply on boys’ hostels, and how on an average women students pay Rs 30,000 more than the men annually as hostel fee. This entire securitsation model has failed and we need to change that by filling more public spaces with women,” she added.
Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nandy, feminist historian Uma Chakravarti, DU Executive Council member Abha Dev Habib and independent journalist Neha Dixit attended the press conference.
Nandy said it was alarming that such “constitutional violations” were happening in a city like Delhi. “The point that the Pinjratod conveyed most clearly was the state universities have set up such constitutional barriers for students. In legal terms, they need to make the case that there are rational differentia that these rules are making, which they don’t,” she said.
Chakravarti said hostels had to stop functioning as “transit areas between fathers and husbands”, where the sole motive is to control girls.
“Hostels start behaving as middle-class, upper-caste men who only want to control women. Therefore, the solution for everything is to keep them locked up in their rooms, supposedly for their own good,” she said.