“I am residing in Nivedita Niwas, a PG in Kamla Nagar. The curfew timing in my PG is 7:30, however, I informed the owner that I would be taking up a coaching class which would go on till a little later and I would be coming back by 8:30-9:00 at least. He told me that would be alright. However, when the classes started, he told me I would have to call him up every day in the evening to tell when I would be coming back. Nearly 2 months passed this way. Then, on 27th of September, he told me that he had to talk to my mother about my classes. He tried to discourage my mother from allowing me to continue my classes, citing the timings as a major problem. Later, he had to allow me to go since my mother did not agree with him”, – Ramjas College, Delhi University.
This is one of the complaints in a recent report submitted to Delhi Commission of Women by Pinjra Tod.
Pinjra Tod Movement, comprised of women from Delhi University, Ambedkar University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Milia University, etc, raised issues of sexist rules and many problems faced by students.
Student who come from different states, often live in university hostels or PGs near their college. But, these hostels and PGs sometimes become the worst nightmare of their lives.
In the university hostels, women didn’t have access to university libraries after certain time, whereas, men had.
Women are not supposed to go out after a specific time as mentioned in the rules.
Even when there is an earthquake, women who live on second or third floor, are locked up. They can’t come down for their protection.
Also, there was a major difference between hostel fees, to be paid by men and women, both. Obviously, it was much higher for women. This was pretty evident in the new hostel rules laid out by Hindu College.
Pinjra Tod fought against this sexist rule by the college and won.
When it comes to PGs, students who come from other states and don’t have any relative or friends here, make them vulnerable. This vulnerability of new students allows the PG owners to make arbitrary rules and ask for high rents, they also get away with harassment, rash moral policing and poor services as compared to the high rents, especially when it comes to women. These PGs are backed by RWA and by also by police.
Mostly, people make PGs near colleges or some students’ hub and ignore architectural norms. Facilities like fire extinguisher, proper lighting, proper water facilities, etc, are not provided.They ignore the guidelines given by MCD and other concerned authorities to accommodate more and more students.
Pinjra Tod has been demanding university administrations to come up with a mechanism to standardize private accommodations run primarily for students in terms of cost of facilities, rules, quality of service and and complaint mechanism for instances of harassment etc.
This issue was fired by one another instance.
In the month of May, a girl who used to reside in a PG in Hudson Lane, was harassed by her landlord, repeatedly.
When this was shared by Pinjra Tod on Facebook and other social media sites, lots of comments and messages poured in, girls started tagging in their posts, and writing about it, sharing the same or even worse experience. To bring the plight of these girls to light, Pinjra Tod took an initiative to make a block list of all the PGs and asked the girls to share the history of experience of bad living conditions undue interference by PG owners, lack of respect for women’s autonomy, etc. They asked the girls to fill the form and share with the other people so that other girls who are new in the city can make an informed decision about where and how they should live.
Like any other movement, Pinjra Tod faced many challenges.
As mainly, this movement was against the administration, the administration started its witch hunt. Women who were associated with Pinjra Tod movement were asked to evacuate. Even teachers, mentioned in the class, that any student who has any association with the movement, may face deduction in their internal assessments.
The movement was also challenged by students organisations like, ABVP and right wing extremists.
Andhere Mein: Delhi Yatra was an evening of theatre, music and poetry emerged from anti caste movement, workers’ movements against capitalist structure, lives of adivasi communities, and pride of Dalits by artists from Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Orissa and Maharashtra.
Their previous performances in Delhi have been shut down by the repressive state and its police for its radical content.