Punjabi University locks girls in hostels to prevent ‘nuisance’ on Holi

Most of are so used to the idea of locking up and silencing  women and girls that we don’t even notice that it doesn’t help anybody –  not the girls, not the crime rate, not the skewed gender ratio, not the general disrespect for the lives, happiness, freedom and rights of women – which is what leads to all the rest of the problems.

We don’t even acknowledge that we still have the highest rate of crimes against women, because obviously locking up women doesn’t work. It only conveys that they and their rights are less valued than those who are assaulting them.

What we are conveying is that the boys who are feared are all powerful, uncontrollable criminals, or maybe that the crime of ‘creating nuisance’ is not big enough to be taken seriously and controlled.

Also that locking up of students (only if they are female students) is not a serious encroaching on their rights. It also conveys to the entire society (including, to the boys), that women’s freedom, recreation, voices, wishes and rights are not as important.

Also, are we trying to say, that those who are feared (the male students) are actually permitted to ‘create a nuisance’ if the girls are out? Was an effort made to talk to the boys about the university’s fears?

Shouldn’t a clear message be given to the boys that ‘creating nuisance’ would not be tolerated? That anybody encroaching on the rights,safety and freedoms of other equal citizens would no go to jail?

Are we saying that we have no way to ensure law and order?  Or is it not big enough an issue and it is easier to lock up those who matter the least?

Ofcourse, most of us can’t imagine restricting the freedom of those we fear could create a nuisance. In fact all they needed to do was let the male students know that any ‘nuisance’ could lead to serious consequences and they could also get some security. Maybe let the male students pay for it, since they are the ones who need help (with being controlled)?

It also seems that the Punjabi University believes that boys lose control only on certain days – did they wonder why that happens? Have the boys been given some special licenses on these days? If yes, then maybe the license needs to be withdrawn by those who grant it? By locking up the girls the university is clearly acknowledging that it believes that the male students are out of control on certain days, but is still taking no action against them.

If nothing else worked, if the university was sure that the boys could be neither trusted enough, nor controlled, to respect the rights of the girl students, then the delegation asked a very relevant question:

Why they don’t close entrances of all boys’ hostels and let girls play Holi inside the campus?

Ofcourse it’s also possible that the University was only trying to prevent interactions between ‘the opposite sexes’, because, like many other educational institutes in India, they too believe that Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.

Punjabi University locks girls in hostels to prevent ‘nuisance’ on Holi

(Link shared by Anil Singhal)
…a delegation of students had met senior varsity officials before Holi, requesting them that such a closure on the festival day was an assault on democratic rights of girls. “However, senior functionaries of the university responded that the tradition of locking girls inside the hostels during Holi was not new and had been going on since the past 40 years. Authorities refused to deliberate on our demand and even threatened strict action if any student violated the orders,” said Sarvir, who is also vice-president of Democratic Students Organization’s (DSO) university unit.

“If authorities foresee nuisance on such occasions then why can’t it be the other way round? Why they don’t close entrances of all boys’ hostels and let girls play Holi inside the campus? This is feudal mindset and intolerable in places like a university campus where girl students are mature enough to differentiate between right and wrong,” she argued.

“Hostels were closed keeping in mind security of girl students and to prevent any kind of nuisance on the campus. Misbehaviour with girls could have led to quarrels and clashes,”

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Can you see what made the request seem so ridiculous to those who had the authority to deny it?

“One of the so-called best professor of my department … advices his students (girls) that men can be satisfied only by two things…”

47 thoughts on “Punjabi University locks girls in hostels to prevent ‘nuisance’ on Holi

    • Here the students sent out a press release and we did not that is the difference. Back in the day when DG was in hostel in three different universities it was the same story. we even went to the female vice chancellor regarding violation of human rights of women students she had the gall to tell us if we wanted our human rights we should stay off campus and if we want education we should stay in the hostel.
      There was a rape on campus and women’s hostels became jails for women, head counts became ever stricter and lock up times became first ray of dark.

      The whole drama plays well and has been gelling out well because when it comes to women we as society believe in in loco parantis and treat them as ever childlike in need of protection, guidance and care; not independent agents of free volition. It is amusing the well wishers of women are the ones who complain about sorry state of failing sex ratio but fail to challenge the actual causes and support the failed system.
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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  1. Humans have their heads screwed on wrong when it comes to women. Instead of locking up and/or restricting troublemakers, they lock up the probable *victims* presumably for their safety (sic). How come Universities don’t lock up the boys because they might cause trouble? Why do they think boys are entitled to celebrate even if it is in a rowdy manner? Why aren’t parents keeping their sons at home and letting the daughters go out and enjoy themselves?
    I have asked this many times, but can’t help voicing it again: How can a society be so stupid as to never learn from experience that locking up girls and letting boys get away with their rowdiness is NEVER EVER going to change things?!

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    • //”the tradition of locking girls inside the hostels during Holi was not new and had been going on since the past 40 years”/
      Wow, now it is a goddamned *tradition*! What a word to use.

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      • SAys one comment on TOI – //Personal freedom is not more important than the safety. .// Only women have to choose between freedom and safety, because it’s convenient for those who are permitting freedom to commit crime and make women ‘unsafe’.

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        • How convenient – only women have to choose but men can get both – safety and freedom. I learnt NOT TO read comments because they make me give up when i see pathetic attitudes. All I can is bullshit bingo because clearly women are not choosing between “safety & freedom” in a lot of developed countries.

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  2. Another comment: //Probably the authorities might have thought that in the guise of Holi the girls could have been attacked and molested. If the girls themselves wanted to enjoy is it not better to allow them to enjoy. Once when I was in Faridabad I was smeared with paint on my nice dress which I wore because I never thought that the unknown people would pour paint on me when I was traveling in train to Delhi on that day.These people who did this to me were wearing old dress.//

    Please note, If the girls themselves wanted to enjoy is it not better to allow them to enjoy.

    So, not their safety but their enjoyment should be the concern here?

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  3. This has been going on for a very long time for the women in the Girls Hostel in a very prestigious university :- VNIT in Nagpur too.
    Nagpur is actually a very safe city yet they have such rules. Apparently they can’t trust the boys who study in the college or the men roaming around in the campus.
    I hope the students of this university too stand up against a stupid rule like this.

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    • I hate to say this, but it’s VERY common to lock up the entrances to girl’s hostels for Holi. In fact, I bet that’s what the majority of colleges do.
      My advice to the young women in such environments is to try and reason with the authorities, and if that fails, to break the rules anyway.

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      • The problem with breaking the rules is after a couple of warnings, they expel you or blacklist your name which would be a problem at the time of placements & college applications after graduation.
        The companies & institutes that would listen to what you have to say & the reasons for breaking the rules are very few.
        Then to get the much needed financial independence is difficult. These young women don’t want their future to be at stake.
        If they don’t get good jobs or move abroad then there are chances they would get emotionally blackmailed to get married off which would lead to unhappy marriages.
        Too much is at stake.
        They can break the rules if they have parents who support them & are also willing to speak to the authorities. The numbers should be in the majority…

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        • You’re right. I meant ‘not following the rules by finding a way around them’ as opposed to getting into trouble.
          My college was full of rules, which were easily and frequently circumvented. For Holi, for example, simply left before Holi began (and stayed with classmates who lived a stones throw away from the campus) to avoid being locked up.

          Also, I think it’s important to note that staying in a hostel is not mandatory. I’ve blogged about this before- when my college took a turn towards trying to enforce their stupid rules, large numbers of girls left, and began to live outside. I was one of them. Found a room, moved out, then informed my parents.
          Life as a PG is definitely more inconvenient ,but the freedom is unbeatable
          Unless and until hard economic incentives to change outdated rules do not come up in campsuses things will stay as they are. To be brutally frank, the authorities in colleges are prehistoric in their thinking about the young women in their care.

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        • Desidaru – exactly what i did🙂, i stayed in a regressive sharada vidyalaya working womens hostel for about 1 month . I was a working woman – over the age of 18 and yet had to get in by 9pm. ( for what joy) . after a couple of arguments with the warden ( sigh!!) who asked me to explain who i came with and a few ‘ mind your business’ responses from me, i decided finding my own PG accommodation with a separate entrance and keys was worth every single penny.
          there were women in their late 20″s there whose parents praised this jail for their strictness.. insane we love to control an dtreat adult women as children and suddenly turn around, get them married and make them providers of maid services, taking care of homes etc., not to mention bear chidren and expect to behave coherently as adults…
          the students themselves cant do a thing, they have no money no job and future in the hands of these regressive idiots, this is where we as parents need to step in, when we see discrimination, WE need to make our displeasure clear ( we are after all paying for services) , we need to pull our kids out of such regressive places and make sure they have the same opportunities and freedom as the boys do to pursue their work/study and enjoy.
          If enough girls parents pull their kids out of the hostel and refuse to have their daughters treated like this, they authorities will have no other option BUT to change. even if they dont like it. after all money speaks in the end.

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  4. It’s amazing to me how blind people are to the fact that not only is this totally wrong, it’s probably unconstitutional to boot. But then again, I don’t think people who hold patriarchal mindsets truly care about something as trivial as the constitution or equal rights.

    The other thing is that this solution is a temporary solution at best. The same way that ladies compartments in trains are temporary solutions. They work for the time being, but what truly needs to happen is a massive education and cultural overhaul. To do this, people have to examine themselves and their prejudices, and be willing to change. People have to start raising their sons appropriately. People have to start learning how to change themselves. But why would any one want to do that? Not only is it much easier to lock up women and hold up the key and say that the problem is solved, it is also supremely detrimental to all the men who enjoy the positions of power they have in society. These positions allow nearly every one of their actions and privileges to go unquestioned, and who would want to give up that sort of power? A lot of men are simply unwilling to even confront the very notion that situations like these are human rights violations. But the only way change will come about is if this massive shift in mindset begins to happen. And seeing how people are attempting to rationalize and explain away something like this, without even questioning for a second the horrific implications it holds, don’t give me much hope.

    Also, it’s interesting to note that if it was the men who were locked in their hostels to prevent nuisance, there would be massive outrage. There would pages and pages of comments on the story, all of them talking about how, “Not all college boys are like that!” and how “All men shouldn’t be punished and locked up for the actions of a few bad ones.” But when it happens to women, it’s “for their own good” and “the only safe solution”. There is no breath of, “We need to change the attitude men hold towards women so that they can both engage in a healthy manner.” Just a simple open and shut case of victim blaming and misogyny. Absolutely pathetic.

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  5. Oh! I know exactly what the girls might have gone through.. Our hostel (in Sangrur, Punjab) used to be locked during Holi as well..

    The back side of our hostel used to face boy hostel. A good 400 mts away. But since there would be boys and girls standing on the balcony (apparently looking at/talking to each other), it was decided that the balcony walls be raised! And they were. Imagine our predicament during the harsh summers when air would be so still that it made it difficult to even breathe!

    And what about other practices like the fines imposed on coming even a minute later than 7:00 pm(during summers) and 6:00 pm (during winters).. No wonder boys could work on all the interesting projects by working long hours in the labs (all trades – be it chemical, computers, electronics etc). And then they complain that the girls ‘waste’ engineering college seats!

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  6. Why can’t they lock the boys? By locking the girl inside they are teaching our next generation that assault happens to girl because girl were not locked inside. From these things many parents will start locking their daughter on Holi. Instead this if we lock boys on Holi for some years then they may understand and may not make nuisance.
    What a society we have? To protect girls from the bad boys , our society punishes girls and allows the boys to enjoy their life.

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  7. Reading this makes me painfully remember, countless such unjust experiences from my school days.

    One of which was on out Annual Sports Day. After the girls were allowed to participate in games which were carefully designed to suit girls. And the teachers carefully chaperoned us so that we don’t provoke the boys, well by merely being present in the same stadium!

    So after the games , we were asked to go home, while the boys were playing Cricket. The match at that point had reached a sensational climax and we stood there instinctively, cheering our class during the last over. Seeing this the teachers stormed towards us saying we are ‘provoking’ the senior boys who were playing against our class , well by merely being present their. And they exclaimed in disgusted tones that we should behave with shame, put our heads down and walk home! Otherwise the boys will leer and tease us shameless girls ! Of course, it dint occur to them at the slightest that it were the guys who would be at fault if they resorted to cheap antics by tormenting innocent souls who meant no harm to them.

    That incident left me so shocked and confused. Something about me felt dirty. I was somehow made to fell ashamed, yet at that age I kept wondering, what my fault was!

    Coming home , I did not discuss this with my family. As they very well would have commended the teachers on taking care of their girls so well!

    After 15 years, I hoped things would change for the better. But they look hopeless as ever ! It disgusts me!

    Only thing We can do from our side is to bring up our daughter by teaching her not to feel victimized and stand up for her rights, and also to stand next to her and be proud of her for fighting against injustice. Also to teach our son the gender equality 101 pretty earlier on in his life.

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  8. Very sad. It’s a very patriarchal response – almost like locking away possessions. Also a tacit acceptance of the aggression of men. Truly, this was the lazy way out because as IHM points out, if the only practical way is to lock somebody, why not lock the boys? Or why not lock everyone in?

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  9. “Complete freedom will never be understood in a country having centuries of slavery”. The US had slavery a long time back. They’re doing better than we are in terms of freedom. I have hope🙂

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    • US was not really a slave country…its just the blacks and Indians who were exploited…They r still struggling with racism issues.Whereas Indians hav been slaves Since the mughal days n British rule was icing on the cake.

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    • In India people were tought to be obeying and fearful. And fear in a psychology of slave. Slavery is in people’s mind and it won’t got till people will start standing for their own rights.

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      • All societies have undergone some degree of oppression in their past. For India we may be able to quote many examples in the recent past, but we underestimate the impact of modern political economy. Look at this blog. Is this the talk of the oppressed? Though we may be a small, elite, priveleged class of Indians, I believe we are growing. I have hope, because I have patience. Change does not happen immediately. Change happens slowly.

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        • It is not about patience. If you sit and just wait patiently, nothing will change. People say that if you don’t complain nobody knows about your issues. That’s true, but If you just sit and wait, the society to change without fighting with those who can be called the ‘wound of society’, nothing is going to change.

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        • aobeamber, I did not say sit & do nothing. I said talk, do & wait with patience for your work to bear fruit. Change is hard & takes a long time.

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  10. You make some good points, IHM. Why shouldn’t the boys be locked up if they are expected to behave badly? Though I don’t think anyone should be locked up at all and awareness regarding respectful behaviour to all students and safe celebrations of festivals must be constantly hammered into students’ heads. Also, it is quite possible that the boys may not harm the girls at all but enjoy playing together – like, you know, human beings! But if anyone has to be locked up, it should be the potential criminals, not the potential victims.

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    • Maybe , the management thought , if it is the lions that could cause trouble to the deer , it would be much easier to lock the deer than the lions to prevent trouble… LOL..just joking.. Who the lions are, and who the deer are, are always up for debate. But ,yes, the potential trouble-makers have to be locked up rather than the potential victims , if at all anyone has to be locked up.

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    • Yes, I am surprised that this is not more widely seen as a solution. More than any law or forceful punishment, stressing legal, social & economic equality at the level of primary education, throughout India, will have a great effect. We need to embed that idea early, so that at least it starts some kind of awareness and discussion. Just imagine. A few pages in the social studies textbooks, repeated every year, about what gender equality really means. Even if the teachers are bad at explaining it, the kids will read the liberal values & basic freedoms / rights of the individual in a free society. If only to pass exams, they will read it & be able to answer questions about it. I know it’s a little idealistic to get it into the curriculum with the political parties appeasing patriarchal values, but I think it is doable if we all agitate for it.

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  11. Even my hostel had locked us girls in…they would not open the gates even after protesting:/

    Even during my school days, we girls used to stand downstairs…One middle aged male came up to us and asked us to vacate the area as it does not look good that good girls from good families to stand near the road in groups…At that point of tie we were totally confused as to how our presence on the road would ‘not look good’…sad…

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  12. My boys go to a wonderful college then, no discrimination from what i hear them tell, rules are the same for both girls and boys and being a defense institution they are of course rigid int he discipline dept, but thats what yu sign up for, they superior medical education and dirt cheap fees make up for it i guess. but form what i can tell both sexes are subject to the same rules and the same discipline, which probably makes it easier for both boys and girls to swallow.

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    • I am c urious to know the reason behind having same rules for both boys and girls.Is this in India? If it is, then I am very much surprised to hear of gender neutral rules.What is the logic behind this?Is it run by feminists?
      Why dont other colleges understand this logic?
      If the management decided on same rules, then there must be some background as to why that decision was taken..Cant this institution be made an example to be followed, by the others? Cant the authorities of this institution show to the rest that women can be safe and yet have fun during Holi?

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      • Its a defense institution aarti. i dont think they care if you are male or female as long as you follow their rules and discipline🙂

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  13. Brings back the NOT so wonderful memories of strictly enforced dress codes for girls ( no sleeveless, no skirts, no short tops etc etc). My ridiculous college had separate stairways for boys and girls!!!!! ( What if the 2 sexes interacted??? What if they became friends and we all know that WILL obviously lead to LOOOVE and eloping and unwanted pregnancies or so we were told.)

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  14. Colleges need to unequivocally define what is acceptable and non-acceptable behavior and have procedures in place for violations. Vague terms such as “nuisance” are not very helpful. What exactly do Holi disturbances typically constitute? For instance, spraying/touching someone without their permission/willing participation can be an offense and defined as ‘harassment’. Punishment for harassment must be clearly outlined, for instance, fine+jail term+community service. Before the event, have a meeting to lay out rules, refresh students on laws, and make it clear that there will be zero tolerance for violations. Have campus police present during event to ensure smooth progression of event.
    Instead of being professional and showing quiet authority that brooks no nonsense, college authorities are showing that they can be intimidated by a bunch of rowdy boys. And to top it off, they lock up the girls.
    I don’t even want to use the term ‘infantalizing’ to this because even children should not be locked up. No one should be locked up, other than criminals.
    Another concern about the locking up (besides violation of dignity and personal rights) – what if there is an outbreak of fire? What if one of the girl students has a medical emergency such as seizure?

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  15. This is similar to the topic I touched on my blog recently, about the presence of ladies only cars in local trains, one of my regular male reader pointed out he felt insulted by these special trains because it made him feel like all men are perverts and molesters women need to be shielded from at all cost. And I agree with him, they are insulting, to men AND to women. Segregation has never been a solution to any issue and never will be. Herding women in any kind of women only spot or building is not going to help anybody.

    Link to the blog post I wrote : http://cynublog.blogspot.in/2014/03/ladies-only.html

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  16. Loved this post IHM. When I read the news story I was utterly shocked and disgusted….like would it even occur to them to “lock” the boys up? And why SHOULD one gender be locked up and not the other? I feel as though the genders should get together and interact more in a healthy way. Locking up women is not protecting them, it is abusing their rights! It is telling them that they don’t matter, that they can’t have fun, that they are a “nuisance”….And the response about tradition and that it has been going on for 40 years is absolute archaic stupidity….traditions need to change with the times!!!!

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  17. Pingback: So how will banning cabs make public transport safer for women? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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