Jungle mein A - Mangal

On a weekend trip to a college campus in south western Tamilnadu, I was shocked to learn about some gender discrimination being practiced in the name of 'Protection'. Being located at the foothills of the Eastern Ghats, far away from civilisation, all students are hostelers. Having been a hosteler myself during my college days, I was curious to learn what hostel experiences were like in recent times. So I asked a group of girls about it.

To begin with they were shy and hesitant. Said the facilities were superb and they loved being in hostel. 'So when is curfew?' - That opened the pandora's box.

Let me explain the meaning of the term 'curfew' in the context of this post. Back when I was in undergrad, there was a 'curfew time' for hostelers. This meant that you could roam around the college campus till 11pm. At the stroke of eleven, a bell would be rung signaling that you had to return to your room from whatever corner of the campus you were in. If you didn't return, you ran the risk of being locked out of your hostel. Being locked out was not really such a bad proposition, if you didn't count the mosquitoes and Lord Clive's ghost. But that's another story.

Cut to present day...these poor girls had to return to their hostels at 6PM! And there they had to remain till the next day.

'But what about dinner? Don't you have to go to the dining hall?'

'Our dining hall is inside the hostel'

'But what about the boys? Do they have curfew?'

'No' said the girls sadly. 'The boys have no curfew. They can roam about as they feel like'

This was too bad! Prohibiting the movement of girls around campus after 6PM! What if they wanted to go to the library? What if they wanted to surf the net? What if they simply wanted to hang out with their friends? Yes, their guy friends! Separate dining halls? It was outrageous.

When I was doing my masters, we looked forward to mealtimes when we could eat, laugh and hang out with ALL our friends. Privacy and protection was limited to the hostels. Which basically meant that you could not go beyond the reception areas of the men's or ladies hostels. A rule we respected and everybody was happy.

Poor kids. I felt bad for them. I thought GenNext was so cool and in charge of their lives. Perhaps we had a better deal after all.

And you know the unkindest cut of all? The guys got wi-fi access whereas the girls didnt!!

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9 Responses to Jungle mein A - Mangal

  1. Mohan says:

    hmmm that is interesting as well as disgusting!
    I never stayed in hostel in the first place to understand all these difficulties. But again, the kind of gender bias you have mentioned is certainly not acceptable!

    We are living in Independent india with a glory of 60+ years of freedom... but the same is not true with hostels.. Not sure what we are getting into.

  2. Oh! It makes more sense to have wifi for the girls since their movements are so restricted na?

  3. Deepa says:

    Well I don't suppose 'sense' is high on their list!!

  4. Shocking!!

    I am glad my daughter has to follow no such rules.And then we wonder why men start thinking they are a privileged lot! I have always maintained the protection is a easiest excuse for controlling. I hope these girl do well despite these stupid biases, and I hope they don't start believing that these rules are 'good for them' :(

    The wifi makes absolutely no sense!!!!

  5. Deepa says:

    Thanks IHM for all your comments and welcome to my blog.

    Indeed this is shocking. Poor kids. I wrote this post on their request and hope some of them saw it.

  6. Well, when I was studying... both at college and at univ, that is... our curfew time was 6.30 pm. One could venture out (but never alone) incase there was something urgent... with prior permission from the warden.

    The dining hall, TV room... everything was inside the hostel premises and we too had separate dining halls.

    Frankly, we had a lot of fun. Hostel life was amazing and I'll cherish those memories... throughout my life.

  7. I'm keen to know more about Lord Clive's ghost, though...

  8. Meera says:

    I dont know why but there is a tendency on the part of society to "control" women/girl's movement outside of their home and name it as "protection". Iused to live at the YWCA at Chennai for a few months and it was a most awful experience- all residents ( i was about to write inmates!!)had to attend a roll call at 8PM!!! Now this is a hostel for working women - women who probably handled finances of government departments, private corporations, managed projects and delivered on contracts- now why would one want to assume that they would be irresponsible and therefore in need of "protection"? Many of these women were over 40 and surprisingly no one seemed humiliated by this requirement. This after 2 years of hostel life in a co ed premier institution in Mumbai during my post graduation where there was so much trust placed on us that there was no curfew until 10PM. Curfew rules applied to all those who lived on campus- boys girls and facutly because there it was genunine an issue of safety. In YWCA it was just a control over the movements of women and girls residing there!!! I think it is a wrong premise to assume that education is an empowering experience for women and girls. Education as it is rendered today is only a capacity building exercise to help women perform their current roles more efficiently- there has been no change in mindset of society!!

  9. Meera says:

    I dont know why but there is a tendency on the part of society to "control" women/girl's movement outside of their home and name it as "protection". Iused to live at the YWCA at Chennai for a few months and it was a most awful experience- all residents ( i was about to write inmates!!)had to attend a roll call at 8PM!!! Now this is a hostel for working women - women who probably handled finances of government departments, private corporations, managed projects and delivered on contracts- now why would one want to assume that they would be irresponsible and therefore in need of "protection"? Many of these women were over 40 and surprisingly no one seemed humiliated by this requirement. This after 2 years of hostel life in a co ed premier institution in Mumbai during my post graduation where there was so much trust placed on us that there was no curfew until 10PM. Curfew rules applied to all those who lived on campus- boys girls and facutly because there it was genunine an issue of safety. In YWCA it was just a control over the movements of women and girls residing there!!! I think it is a wrong premise to assume that education is an empowering experience for women and girls. Education as it is rendered today is only a capacity building exercise to help women perform their current roles more efficiently- there has been no change in mindset of society!!