India Today exposes gender divide, moral policing on campus
Four brave girls from BHU have come out to speak to India Today, exposing the worst kind of gender discrimination and moral policing practiced on the campus.
- 1Non-vegetarian food is not part of the menu at all in girls’ hostels.
- 2Female students cannot wear clothes of their choice. They cannot wear shorts in their mess.
- 3Girls can’t take part in any debate with a political group outside BHU if it is against RSS’ ideology.
While the spotlight is on the Ramjas controversy in the Delhi University, it is campuses beyond the national capital that have become hostage to growing intolerance. The Banaras Hindu University, which is now in its 101st year, is under the scanner. The university faces serious charges of gender discrimination. Once the pride of Purvanchal, BHU is now being seen as an institute that has become an RSS fortress.
Till now, female students at BHU have been reluctant to speak out fearing retribution. But four brave girls – Mineshi, Deepshri, Mridula Manglam and Nivedita Shandilya – have come out to speak to India Today, exposing the worst kind of gender discrimination and moral policing practiced on the campus.
- Female students not allowed access to free wi-fi and internet in their hostel rooms. No such restrictions on male students.
- Girls cannot eat non-veg food in the campus, while boys can eat whatever they want.
- No telephone calls for girls after 10 pm.
- Girls cannot go out of hostel, even in the campus, after 8 pm.
- Female students cannot wear clothes of their choice. They cannot wear shorts in their mess.
- Girls can’t participate in protests, demonstrations or even political debates. These restrictions do not apply on boys.
“We cannot participate in any debate with a political group outside BHU, especially if it is against the Sangh or RSS ideology. Writing against the RSS creates problems for us. Our teachers warn us against participation in debates or NSS/NCC, saying that our dignity was in our hands if we did”, said Nivedita.
The policing on non-vegetarian food is not about girls cooking it, but rather it is not part of the menu at all in girls’ hostels. Boys, on the other hand, have non-vegetarian food in their mess menu.
“Both boys and girl hostels pay the same fee for the mess, but for the girls non-vegetarian food is not allowed in the scheduled mess menu. It is allowed for boys. Girls can have non-veg food, but they have to purchase it from outside. Boys have non-veg food in their regular mess schedule,” said Minesha.
PROBLEMS START SINCE THE TIME OF ALLOTMENT OF HOSTELS
Problems reportedly begin for female students right from the time they are allotted hostels, when they are asked to bring our parents, who are shown a list of rules for only their girls. The parents have to sign it, giving the rights to teachers to expel female students if they break these rules. Some female students, claim the girls, were suspended for violating these rules.
“Security and protection for the girls is the best defence people have for discrimination”, said Minesha.
The girls are allowed to use wi-fi, but unlike boys, the administration does not provide them free connection. The reason, says Nivedita, is that the administration thinks that free wi-fi and pornography can make the girls impure.
CULTURE MUST NOT BE HINDRANCE TO RIGHTS
“We don’t even have a television,” said Deepshri. “One doesn’t need a wi-fi to watch porn. It can be accessed on data cable too. Culture should enable us to enhance our values, but if culture becomes a hindrance to our basic rights, it is a problem.”
India Today also met with BHU’s Vice-Chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi, who rubbished all allegations of discrimination against female students.
“The conjecture that BHU has become an RSS fortress is false. I am not associated with the university because of BJP. I was in Allahabad University for the last 40 years. I have never been a BJP member even for a rupee. But I am associated with RSS and am proud of that. The same RSS has taught me that the university cannot be run on one particular idealogy,” said Tripathi.