Under the apparent name of protecting women in college against sexual assault, The Government Polytechnic College in Mumbai went so far as to demarcate separate sections for women and men in the campus cafeteria using ropes. This caused the state Minister of Technical Education in Maharashtra, Vinod Tawde, to tell off the college’s principal and urge him to emphasise improvement on education standards and not policing.
A Difference of Opinion
He mentioned clearly that vice-chancellors and principals should focus on the quality of academics and not on issues that pertain to the attire of students or how their seating is arranged. He went on further and said that we as a nation live in a modern era. In this era we must focus more on policies that will take the quality of education provided forward and not on those that work to police students. He said that only if a certain demand from the female students, should it be taken into account and met quickly, and in the absence of such a request there should only be a focus on education from management. If the girls are wearing questionable clothing, only then must they be spoken to, but he felt no need to introduce a blanket rule for such cases.
The principal of the Government Polytechnic College in Mumbai, Swati Deshpande, defended the move by saying that there was a gross increase in the number of former students who enter the college premises and would go on to mess about in the cafeteria by misbehaving with the girls. An incident in October in fact, had even been reported to the police.
Swati Deshpande also believes that girls in the college and in general suffered from Poly Cystic Ovarian Diseases (PCODs) which is being caused directly by them dressing like men which she correlated to a “role reversal of genders” in their own minds.
These sexist practices are not new among educational institutions in India, in fact it has been quite common in the recent past. The female students who belong to the Women’s College were denied entry to the Maulana Azad Library in the Aligarh Muslim University earlier. The Vice Chancellor of the University Lieutenant-General Zameer Uddin Shah stated in 2014 when this move was made, that if girls were allowed to the library, the number of boys would increase by four times in the library as compared to present attendance numbers.
Farook College in Kozhikode, which is in north Kerala, in fact went so far as to approve the suspension of a student protesting against the decision made by the college’s management to not allow girls and boys to sit together in class. This incident took place in 2015.
Unfortunately, the Education System in India has been littered with such sexist acts and measures since almost its inception. This is in spite of the data from a UGC (University Grants Commission) report which said that protection of women’s safety on campuses across the country must be taken on and ensured without taking any measures which cause discomfort to the women or curb their constitutional freedoms in any way that is unethical or restrictive to their movement.