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Will imposing curfew timings on students really achieve anything? Mothers of college students give their opinion on the matter, which swings both ways.
Why is the onus of maintaining safety of women on the women alone? It is unfair to expect female students to be back to the hostel early because it is not safe for them outside but in the current conditions, the imposition of early curfew timings for them seems to be the only option.
What a man can do, a woman can do equally well but there is one arena where men are considered more equal than women. Men can be out until late night without a care in the world but the women need to be back to the hostel/home early. Not only this, the women are routinely shamed for staying out late. Is curfew necessary to keep them safe?
The recent protests against the introduction of early curfew timings for female students has reignited the debate on women empowerment. ‘Instead of putting us in the cage, create a safe environment for us in the campus,’ cries the fair sex. The agony and anguish of women is justified but the parents especially the mothers view it differently.
In the wake of such debates, I spoke to a few mothers to know their views about the curfew timings for men and women. Here is what they said.
Professor of Sociology, Government College for Girls, Chandigarh
“My daughter is doing an internship in Delhi. I want her to be back in her hostel by 7 pm. Though she is sensible and matured, unfortunately the atmosphere around her is unsafe. If she were studying in Dubai or Singapore, I wouldn’t bother if she is out even at midnight because those countries are safe for women. I have inculcated good values in her but I have no control over the environment around her. I teach in a college and on no account, we can ask female students to stay back in the college beyond a designated hour. The college is responsible for their safety. It is unfair but their safety is our prime concern.”
“Why curfew timings only for the female students? I wouldn’t be comfortable if my son or daughter are outside beyond 8 pm. In our times, we were instructed to be home by 6 pm. Those deadlines were due to the conservative society that we grew up in but these days it is not about being conservative or liberal, it is about the safety of our children. In today’s world young people are involved in umpteen things so 6 pm curfew timings are unrealistic but 8 pm for both boys and girls is realistic and should be strictly imposed whether at home or in college,” opines the anxious mother.
The responses didn’t surprise me. If the women are not safe outside, even men aren’t. Being the mother of two young boys, I can relate to the anxiety of the mothers. If my sons are out beyond 9 pm, I am as worried as the mother of a girl. What surprises me though, is that there are no questions about how to provide better law and order for women. There are only discussions and debates on how women should dress up and act, and the imposition of early curfew timings for them. Why is the onus of keeping the women safe on women alone?
“I am a much more liberal mother than my own mother but we shouldn’t forget that ours is a patriarchal society. During my college days, I was expected to be back home by 7 pm. Though we lived in the safer era, forty years later, I have the same deadline for my three daughters. I won’t be at peace if I know my daughters haven’t reached their hostel by 10 pm.”
Software Professional, Chandigarh
“Imposing curfew timings is like going back to eighteenth century where women were not allowed to step out of the house. Today women are confident enough to take care of themselves. We need not create unnecessary fear in the minds of our children. Let them not think that all men are ready to pounce at them. There is no need for curfew timings at all. If there is no safety at night, there is no safety during the day either. Don’t untoward incidents happen during the day? Let our children learn how to survive in this world. And even if there are curfew timings, we can control them only when they are in the hostel but what happens when they are working and living independently. Instead of having curfew timings, it is advisable to educate them to guard themselves. They should play safe, choose friends carefully and strictly avoid taking lift from strangers. Most importantly, we need to trust our children. It is regressive to impose curfew timings and curtail their freedom.”
“Introduction of curfew timings would make them rebellious. The best is to just advise them because it is for their own good. I was brought up in a very conservative environment at home as well as in college. I had to be back in the hostel by 5 pm. There used to two roll calls – first at 5 pm and then again at 10 pm. I must confess I have broken all rules. There is a strange sense of adventure in breaking the rules. But I must also agree that our times were safer. Today’s world is turning from bad to worse. I don’t want to have curfew timings for either my daughter or my son but I will be at peace if they are in the safe confines of their hostel by 8 pm.”
Though the concern for the safety of students is universal, the approach varies. There is no consensus on the need to have curfew timings for them but there is complete agreement on the need to keep men and women safe in the current times and one of the ways is to impose early curfew timings.
Having said that, it must also be noted that imposing curfew timings alone doesn’t guarantee complete safety if the students are not on their guard all the time. Along with playing safe, they must educate themselves to distinguish between good and evil. They must also realize that nothing should compromise their own security. They shouldn’t let their guard down at any time.