Pinjratod is an autonomous collective and movement of women students across universities in Delhi. For the past one year, we have been battling the university which we believe reproduces patriarchal and casteiest structures by constantly seeking to regulate and control women students’ lives, mobility and sexuality through a wide range of mechanisms. The curfew timings that mark women’s lives, the daily battles with the warden and the unwarranted provocations thrown our way, the fake phone calls, the negotiations on the street and in public spaces, the library that belongs to us only during the day, the sports fields, the labs that mock us as the clock paces, the jeering landowner whose bulging pockets hide gaddis he fleeced from parents at the mercy of Dilli, the room that waits every night to be occupied even as it becomes a real chase to find it every day, the lack of functioning sexual harassment complaints committee cells in colleges, the sexism in classrooms – experiences that jar a woman student’s life every day. Despite being present in the university in almost equal numbers as men, our experience of the university space is tremendously different from that of a male student, it is characterised by discrimination and humiliation, which is further aggravated if a woman student is Dalit, Bahujan, Muslim, working class, differently-abled, queer, north eastern, kashmiri etc. We are denied our basic constitutional right of an equal access to education.
Pinjratod has been challenging the University over these questions, to build more hostels and allot them to students at affordable rates, to do away with curfews and limited late nights that bind women’s lives, infantilise them, to build infrastructure such as street lights, to do away with discriminatory and exorbitant fees for women’s hostels, to regulate PG accommodation, to put an end to everyday moral policing and humiliation. We have asked the University to stop using the age old farcical argument of ‘safety’ just to imprison and restrict women. We instead demand functional, elected Sexual harassment complaints committees that provide empowering mechanisms to women to raise their voices. Over the last year, we have marched under the night sky, raised slogans of azaadi and broken pinjras, and have built libraries of our dreams through the night. The University has mostly responded by ignoring us or belittling us by telling us to negotiate with our parents, trying to distract us from the fact that it is unconstituional to treat 18 year old as people who cannot make their own decisions. Due to the pressure built by our movement, the Delhi Commission for Women, the UGC and the Delhi Government has issued legal notices and directives to the universities on our demands. The university fears the autonomous and independent voices of its women students. They fear that their high walls made of caste and cemented with patriarchy will come crumbling down if women step out. And so it must happen! So it will!