The students of Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, in Punjab have been protesting against the maladministration and sexist practices of the University – one of them being the discriminatory curfew imposed on female students but not men.

Sadly it’s not just the reality of this particular University.

It’s 2019, and hostel curfews are still a reality of the Indian education scene. From BHU to the colleges of Delhi University, most of the administrations have different curfew timings for women and men, if they have one for male students at all.

Gender Matters

 Is safety a concern only for women? 

Hailing hostel curfew as a ‘solution’ to women safety is an absurd and archaic practice normalised and set in stone. But this remnant of patriarchal patronisation of women reeks of discriminatory gender roles – women are to be protected.

But is the question really of women’s safety?

Movements like #PinajaraTod have been fighting and protesting day and night to move the institutes to change their rules. They constantly vocalise the need ‘to ensure secure, affordable and not gender-discriminatory accommodation for women students across Delhi.’

DU Beat

Hostel curfews are the modern-day rendition of Laxmanrekha – Sita can’t, Sita shan’t cross the boundary coz Raavan will be Raavan.

Why does a woman need permission from a ‘guardian’ to go out late at night? Even for women pursuing their Masters or higher education. These are mature adults we’re talking about, legally capable of casting a vote.

But no, in the view of these institutes, still functioning on an ideology entrenched with the patriarchal mindset, you’re to be ‘protected’, because men will be men.

New Indian Express

The enforcement of this practice also entails severe policing of and control over women’s bodies. 

Arbitrary rules are created in sync with the same ideology that governs the decree of discriminatory curfews – dress codes, inquiry about any male friend accompanying a woman, permission from a ‘guardian’ to go out late at night, and so on. 

And then you have a suspicious gaze accompanying all this, as though you’ve committed a crime with your wish to exercise your freedom. Your ‘character’ is all of a sudden brought under scrutiny.

DU Beat

There are hostels that restrict entry after the curfew. Basically, if you don’t abide by the hostel’s rules, then the whole concern to ‘safeguard’ women, goes down the drain. It goes without saying that this is a counterproductive enforcement.

Now you’ve to spend the night outside. There are hostels that get as stringent as to not allow women inside if they arrive even a minute past the deadline.

News Number

The onus of the mishap, if it were to happen, is already on the woman.

It’s an understanding – an understanding between the caretakers of the society and the perpetrators – ‘If a woman is outside her quarters late at night, then it’s her own mistake, you’re free to act according to your will. Let’s shake on it, eh?’

 If this explanation feels exaggerated, then you’ve failed to understand what the curfew implies. 

India Resists

Curfew is an easy way out. For the law enforcers, executioners, the administration and the caretakers. Instead of actually taking concrete step to curb violence against women, we’ll just shut them inside the doors. Simple. 

You know you’ll be blamed for anything that happens to you. This has been made very clear to you from the very beginning. ‘Itni der raat tak bahar kya kar rahi thi? ’- is the first thing one would hear in such a scenario. 

It doesn’t make sense that coming from the most progressive infrastructure of any nation – the University arena would impose this on women without realising the implications of it. 

Times Of India

Hostel curfews, instead of safeguarding women as they claim to do, are counterproductive and perpetuate a hostile and sexist environment for women. It’s about time that we do away with them.