Back in October, one of the most esteemed institutions in India witnessed a horrific incident. In a shocking incident, multiple videos showed men scaling the walls to enter the all-girls college, Miranda House, during their Diwali Mela. The news was everywhere, and actions were promised, but nothing much changed. In another incident that has come to light, multiple videos show men scaling the walls of Indraprastha College For Women during their annual college fest.
Just like the incident at Miranda House, the men who scaled the walls of Indraprastha College raised sexist slogans. Some students also spoke about catcalling, groping, and other forms of harassment.
Within six months these incidents have repeated themselves on the campuses of two of the most esteemed colleges in our country. At Indraprastha, there was an open invite to students from the NCR to attend the fest ‘Shruti’ if they registered for it and received a pass. In Miranda, the principal of Miranda House – Prof Bijayalaxmi Nanda – shared that the college had opened its doors for students to attend the Diwali Mela.
When doors are opened for men, you don’t expect them to hound you or harass you in a college event. Rather, these open invites are sent across so that every student has access to these resources. However, that isn’t how it played out.
At Indraprastha, the students claimed that drunk men climbed the walls and harassed women and other gender minorities. If that wasn’t all, these men loudly proclaimed they “owned” Miranda and Indraprastha. As if women are objects that can be owned.
Women students from Indraprastha College claimed incidents of sexual harassment and catcalling. What made things even worse was that the authorities made the women leave their space, as if that would curb the problem.
This incident sparked an important conversation on how women, still, do not have access to safe spaces. In a space that is marked specially for them, these men considered it acceptable to jump in and make women feel uncomfortable. Back in Miranda House, women shared how this incident made them utterly uncomfortable and, in a way, scarred them.
At Indraprastha, when singer Asees Kaur entered the college. People mobbed the car. A stampede followed where some students fell. At this point, men thought the most logical thing to do would be to run over them in order to enter the college illegally. Without any pass.
The same happened at Miranda when men decided to take things into their hands and thought of climbing the walls.
Because obviously, men can’t take no for an answer, right?
In an even sadder segue, students from Delhi University shared how incidents like these are not uncommon in the university. The university boasts a plethora of women’s colleges and women from these colleges shared how men climbing walls and trying to attend their events and fests has been a recurring phenomenon.
Let’s talk about what happened to the men who harassed women in broad daylight at Miranda House. What happened to them? It’s hard to say but quite easy to guess. As for Indraprastha, reports state that 11 suspects have been detained. But…what after that?
All of this brings us back to the same old set of questions – where do men get the audacity from? Why do they feel this behaviour is acceptable? How do they not fear any repercussions? Is it the Raja Beta syndrome that allows men to engage in such behaviour? When will they stop treating women like objects and for once treat them like humans?
There have been multiple such incidents, not only in a girl’s college but also in co-ed colleges, where people from other colleges just barge in and harass women. Do you know how many women go back home and share this incident with their parents? Not many. Because they know that if they do, they won’t be allowed to go back to college again. I mean, I just want to study. But according to our parents, safety aur izzat ki baat hai.
We all know who pays the price for these actions. It is women, as has always been the case. These incidents make women painfully aware of their position in society. Men walk away scot-free
Think of it from a woman’s perspective. Your college decides to hold an open fest and you are excited to meet your friends from other colleges. But some men take it upon themselves and decide to create chaos and harass everyone. Actions have their consequences. These incidents have far-reaching effects on women.
Every woman knows of a woman who had to fight and let her parents allow her to move out of her hometown for her education. Sometimes, this moving out is necessary for two main reasons – better education, and more opportunities (if they come from a small city). And when women fight for their education, parents often bring up the question of safety. Now, the question itself is legitimate, but what it leads to, is not. Things don’t happen in a vacuum and it is these incidents parents use as examples to show their daughters how the world outside is unsafe. A few years ago it was Daulat Ram, then Gargi, then Miranda, and now Indraprastha.
Some women win the fight and some don’t. Not just education, this continues even when they get a job.
These incidents serve as prickly reminders that women cannot have a safe space that is marked solely for them. When parents use these incidents are arguments to support their point of not letting their girls go out and study, it becomes tricky to navigate that conversation. We all know how this has been happening for a long time. Women have shared similar stories. Women have always been robbed of their space. Something as simple as women having space is seen as rebellious.
I don’t know if things will change. I don’t know what I will tell the future generation of women. Optimists might say that things are changing at a glacial pace. But for women who owe nothing to society, who do want to take up spaces and move out, and achieve their dreams, sadly our fight seems unending.