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Women In Punjabi University Have Broken Not Just Their Hostel Gates, But Patriarchy’s Back

Garvit Garg

On Thursday night, women students of Punjabi University in Patiala, Punjab, ran out from the hostel after breaking the hostel gates. Girls began shouting slogans against the university administration and patriarchy. However, it wasn’t a sudden action taken by the students but a part of ongoing protests against hostel curfew across the country.

What is the protest?

On the evening of September 18, 2018, students of the Democratic Student Organisation met on the campus. It was agreed that a march should be taken out against the gender discriminatory rule of locking the girls’ hostel gates at 6 PM. They demanded that the hostels gates of girls’ hostel be open 24 hours, just like the boys’ hostels.

The students began marching towards the girls’ hostels, shouting slogans like ‘Inquilab Zindabad’. They were joined by hundreds of students as the march reached hostel gates. The protesting students were attacked by SAP, a right-wing student organization, but neither did this discourage the girls who were marching for their freedom nor the boys. The next day, students staged a protest outside the Vice Chancellor’s office demanding girls’ hostels gates be open 24 hours. The protest was joined by DSO, PSU, PRSU, PSU-LALKAAR, AISF and several other students organisations. 

The police have registered a case of attempt to murder against 13 protesting students. But even after the police case, students have refused to stop their demonstrations.  On October 1, three girls and two boys sat on a fast-unto-death. The three girls were admitted to a hospital after their condition worsened.

In an interview with Lokvani.in, a protesting student Survir, said, “Our society is changing and it is also changing old perverted beliefs. Breaking of hostel locks by girls in Punjabi University is part of this change. We are just saying that on the basis of gender equality, the hostel should open 24 hours for us as well as boys. At night, when us girls were shouting slogans of gender equality, it was not limited to our freedom. Rather, it was allow to the thinking in the society that considers women as second class citizens. We were forcibly locked in the hostel, so we broke the hostel gates in protest and stepped out to breathe under the open skies.”

The girls of Punjabi University are protesting against patriarchy in different ways. The library reading room used to remain closed for girls at night. Today, the same reading room has come alive at night after women students have refused to leave the room. Even though the administration prevented women from going to the reading room at night, the latter did not budge and emerged victorious.

Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University, Dr. B. S. Ghumman has said that he is talking to the protesting students. “Students should not be be adamant because it is not possible to open the girls’ hostel for 24 hours in any way. In this case administrative, social, security, legal and parents’ side can not be ignored. Many student organizations are also against opening girls’ hostels for 24 hours. We tried convincing the protesting students, but they aren’t listening. We can not risk the safety of the university and girls in any way,” he said.

The vice-chancellor of the university might not allow women students the freedom to step out of the hostel at night, but the events that took place in Punjabi University on Friday make it clear that women are here and they are not begging for, but taking away their rights.

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