In early August last year, women from five educational institutions in Delhi (DU, Jamia Millia Islamia, Ambedkar University, National Law University and Jawaharlal Nehru University), joined hands to form the #PinjraTod campaign which essentially grew out of a Facebook page where women hostel and PG residents shared their bitter experiences with guards, wardens, principals and landlords. The campaign’s name is significant of the situation women hostelers in different universities find themselves in – ” ‘big walls, huge metal gates, locking of gates at night, numerous security guards, constant checking of Id-cards, a plethora of arbitrary and regressive restrictions’. The idea is to raise our voices against it,” said Devangana Kalita, one of the founding members of Pinjra Tod:Break the Hostel Locks.
Kalita goes on to add “Through the campaign, we are trying to address four issues — unnecessary restrictions on women, moral policing in the name of concern, need for creation of more egalitarian and affordable spaces where women can stay, and proper implementation of anti-sexual harassment laws. If the environment is more enabling, we believe women don’t have to be caged at all. State authorities have to stop acting like khap panchayats that seek to control and regulate the lives of young adult women in the name of ‘protection’ and ‘safety’.”
In November last year, the #PinjraTod campaign, having gained significant support and momentum, submitted an exhaustive 16, 000 word report to the Delhi Commission of Women. It contained testimonials and complaints from women students across colleges and universities in Delhi.
In this regard, after several rounds of discussions, Delhi Commission for Women, has finally issued a notice on 7th May to ALL 25 registered universities in Delhi instituting an enquiry based on this report. Separate notices have also been sent to all undergraduate colleges under Delhi University which have women’s hostels.
We wholeheartedly support this campaign, and believe that it is an excellent example of the people joining hands to create change. We also feel that it is an extremely concrete step towards women’s safety in general, and we hope that with the backing of the DCW, significant changes are brought about in Delhi for female students.
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