Maneka Gandhi, Apologise: Students Hit the Streets On Women’s Day

Women students recount harrowing experiences with sexist college rules, demanding an apology from Maneka Gandhi.

4 min read
Maneka Gandhi, Apologise: Students Hit the Streets On Women’s Day
Hindi Female

The Quint DAILY

For impactful stories you just can’t miss

By subscribing you agree to our Privacy Policy

Female students in New Delhi took to the streets to rail against Union Minister Maneka Gandhi’s “hormonal outbursts” remark. The Union Minister for Women and Child Development had attempted to justify early hostel curfew timings by saying that they were needed to protect young girls from their own “hormonal outbursts.”

Members of the Pinjra Tod movement, the women’s rights collective that organised the protest, replied to the Minister. “Dear Maneka Gandhi, “hormonal outbursts” are not the real reason for regressive rules and different curfew timings for women, your gender-discriminatory thoughts are.”


'Hormonal Outburst Hoke Rahega, Maneka Gandhi Hoshiyar'

The protesters stormed the gates of New Delhi’s Shastri Bhavan, which houses the offices of Maneka Gandhi’s Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Following an altercation with personnel of the Delhi Police, the protesters were assured by the cops present that their letter to Maneka Gandhi would be delivered to her office.

The letter to the Women and Child Development Minister, authored by the organisers of Pinjra Tod, demands a public apology for her statement on “hormonal outbursts” of young girls.

What you have said is violative of constitutional rights of all women students to access education equally. Moreover, your holding the position of Minister of Women and Child Welfare leaves us with little hope of your ministry and government representing the interests of this country’s women. The least that your public apology will do is give us reason to believe that you are reviewing your opinions. 

The following is an image of the letter accessed by The Quint.


“Tod Do Taale, Zamana Kya Karega” - Breaking into Song Aboard the Delhi Metro


The Victims of Everyday Discrimination

The Quint asked some of the protesters if they had faced any form of gender discrimination in their colleges and universities. Here are their responses. Remember, this is the year 2017.

Saima Hasan, a first-year BA Psychology student at Jamia Millia Islamia (Photo: Meghnad Bose/The Quint)

Saima Hasan, a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi, recounts “In October last year, I saw someone being kidnapped just outside my college. I immediately called the police and informed them. Later, when the cops came to the college to get my signature on the complaint, I was not allowed by my warden to even go to the gate.”

She (the warden) later told me - “You’re a girl. Tomorrow, if the goons do something to you, Jamia’s name will be spoilt.” Can you imagine? My warden was telling me that I may get molested or raped, but what she was concerned about was that it would apparently harm the reputation of the college.
Sabika Abbas, MA student at Ramjas College. (Photo: Meghnad Bose/The Quint)
I used to be avidly involved in theatre productions in the city. But early curfew timings ensured that I couldn’t pursue my passion for the stage. Rehearsals would be scheduled late in the evening and last beyond the ridiculously early hostel curfews at Lady Shri Ram College for Women. I had to drop out.
Sabika Abbas, MA student at Ramjas College

Sabika is the President of the DU women’s hostel Meghdoot. She adds, “The Provost and the warden of our hostel frequently ask us not to wear short clothes, even within the hostel premises. They justify it by saying that there are male workers in the mess “jinke nazar kharab ho jayenge.

Devika Shekhawat, a third-year BA student at St. Stephen’s College. (Photo: Meghnad Bose/The Quint)

“At Stephen’s, the girls’ hostel curfew is 10 pm. The boys’ hostel though does not have any such restriction,” complains Devika Shekhawat, a third-year student pursuing her BA degree.

The humiliation is worse. I remember how the warden had once asked a girl who had taken a night out and returned the next morning, “So whose bed did you warm last night?” Hostel locks are really a way to control women, safety is a mere excuse. In the name of safety, they curb women’s opportunities.
Shambhawi Vikram, one of the founding members of Pinjra Tod, is currently a student at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. (Photo: Meghnad Bose/The Quint)

“Hostel curfews at several top colleges in the city remain gender-discriminatory despite notices from the Delhi Commission for Women. But despite the rules not having changed, we take spirit from the fact that now more and more women students are questioning these sexist rules,” says Shambhawi Vikram, one of the founding members of the Pinjra Tod movement.

A survey conducted by Pinjra Tod found that on average, women students in Delhi pay around Rs 30,000 more than their male counterparts. How does the Delhi University justify this? The DU Proctor offered an explanation, saying that the women’s hostels were built later. So are women being penalised for entering university spaces late? What is this if not us bearing the brunt of historical discrimination?

A student of Jamia Millia Islamia told us on condition of anonymity:

Our college reading hall is open till 2 o’clock in the night. Boys can access the hall till it closes but girls living in the college hostel can’t because of our 8 pm curfew. So we pay more fees but don’t even get equal access to resources. Was it my fault that I was born a girl?

She added, “Don’t mention my name in your report. I don’t want to face the backlash from the college authorities.”

It’s 2017, India. How long till we wake up and stop the discrimination?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from news and india

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More