Recently, 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. Videos also showed men on the campus raising sexist slogans. Some students also spoke about catcalling, groping, and other forms of harassment.

Miranda House
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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. Several students from Miranda House shared how this incident made them utterly uncomfortable and, in a way, scarred them.

Speaking to the media, the principal of Miranda House – Prof Bijayalaxmi Nanda – shared that the college had opened its doors for students to attend the Diwali Mela. However, at one point, they had to close the gates because the crowd grew frantically.

At this point, men decided to take things into their hands and thought of the most illogical thing to do – climb the walls. Because obviously, they 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.

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? Sadly, these questions cannot be answered in absolute terms. Mind you, this happened in broad daylight, on THEIR OWN campus.

I’m not even sure if we have an answer to them. But 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.

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. Men, often, walk away unscathed and these incidents have far-reaching effects on women.

Fundamental rights for women
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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 you come from a small city). And when women fight for their education, parents often bring up the question of safety (and rightly so, if you think of it from their perspective). Things don’t happen in a vacuum and it is these incidents parents use as examples to show how the world outside is unsafe. Some women win the fight and some don’t. Not just education, this continues even when she gets a job.

women's rights
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Incidents like these make women aware of how their only place apparently lies inside their homes. Society fears strong and independent women who are assertive and can speak their minds. And when parents use these incidents are arguments to support their point of not letting their children go out and study, what are you even supposed to answer? 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.

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 is unending.