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The BHU protests show us that 50% of the population still faces a trade-off between their safety and education! Read on.
Women’s safety is a major, and the most underestimated issue in India today which needs immediate attention. Safety is a major factor for women which determines their activities all over the world, but it is still an aspect which needs a ton of work and at least in India, doesn’t seem to be getting any better, if one goes by the recent experiences of women at the prestigious Benares Hindu University (BHU).
“There is no BHU girl who has not been harassed or molested on the campus. This is how girls protesting in the BHU premises summed up their safety on the most prestigious university campus in Uttar Pradesh,” says this report in the India Today.
During the BHU protests, where female students tried to oppose the ignorant attitude and faulty policies of the administration with respect to the safety of women on the campus, instead of getting their voices heard, the only things they seem to have gotten are the thrashings from the police and a deaf approach from the authorities at the university.
The worsening situation of crimes that women face and the amount of apathy and ignorance these issues face is mounting to an all-time high. And all of this in the year of 2017, the year when we imagined that cars would fly. To be honest, I think flying cars will come sooner than the day when all women on this planet can confidently step into the world and be their own selves without all the BS they get for it.
The last place one would expect such things to happen are universities, a hub of education and a place where people become more aware of the problems that their world is in. But completely opposite to this, almost naive expectation, university campuses are no safer than a road where women are cat-called at on a daily basis. And when they decide to protest about this, they are beaten up by the police and chased down by them.
It is important that they understand that making a university a safe space for females is an important task they ought to have accomplished years ago. The only thing authorities do in this regard is either cutting of our interaction with the other sex completely (all-girls campus) or putting n number of restrictions on us (dress coding and curfews), which is absolutely pointless and doesn’t do any good at all.
“The demands of the protesters are simple considering the standard safety protocol adopted by universities across the country. They want installation of CCTV cameras, proper lighting of the campus and gender sensitisation of university staff and security personnel” – as written in the above-mentioned article by India Today, these demands are so basic that one needs to wonder what the actual status of universities is in our country.
Instead of victim blaming, how about actually taking steps to support female students? For e.g. some foreign universities like The University of Sheffield understand the importance of the same and offer better transportation services, along with a pocket alarm which is a great step in this direction. Boston University established a Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Center to help women in the unfortunate event of their being sexually attacked. Other universities and organisations have found that simple steps such as better lighting on campus (also a demand of the BHU students) makes attacks less likely, and also increases the likelihood of support from bystanders.
Indian universities seriously need to take some tips and make our campuses a better place for women to be in.
Image credits BHU Buzz.