What started off as a protest against Jamia Millia University's cancellation of late nights for its women students has now grown into a campaign against sexist hostel rules across various colleges in the capital.
On September 14, two words - 'Pinjra Tod' - were painted across walls and footpaths in Delhi University's North Campus in a call against discriminatory rules for women students living in college hostels and PGs.
The move was taken after Jamia Millia Islamia University, in a recent order, cancelled night outs for its female students while allowing them for boys. Though the students protested against the movie, no heed was paid to the same. But, after the Delhi Commission of Women sent a notice to Jamia, the college was forced to withdraw the policy.
However, the discrimination is not just about one specific order. In yet another directive, the male students of the college can access the college library till 2 am, while hostel rules prevent girls living in campus from doing the same.
"The library is open till 2 o'clock. Why should I pay the same fees if I am locked up at 7:30 and I can't use that same facility till 2 o'clock," ex-Jamia student Sanchita Joshi said.
College authorities are quick to cite safety concerns as the reason behind such regulations.
"National Commission of Women or Delhi Commission of Women, they are all very much engaged with the issues of safety and security of women. Many of these guidelines stem from these concerns," Jamia Media Coordinator Mukesh Ranjan said.
It is not just Jamia but in Shri Ram College of Commerce, girls need to be inside their hostels by 8 pm every night but for boys, the deadline is 10:30 pm.
Female students staying as paying guests have also complained of landlords locking them in at night, supposedly to ensure their safety.
"There was an earthquake and the girls from the ground, 1st and 2nd floors immediately rushed outside, but the top two floors were locked up because their warden had locked them in at 9 and she'd just left. The same thing was repeated when we had a short circuit and there was a fire on the ground floor. Basically, even if we burn alive inside the PG, that's fine with them as long as we are locked up inside the PG by the curfew time," Delhi University student Shambhawi Vikram said.
Fighting against the discrimination, members of the 'Pinjra Tod' campaign feel it's a long road ahead. "We are submitting a charter of demands to the DCW about all these issues specifically around discriminatory rules, secondly around moral policing in all these spaces, thirdly the need for more hostels and regularization of PGs by the University,' Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita said.
With such guidelines in place, the question remains whether it is legitimate for adult women students to have rules imposed on them which are different from the ones their male counterparts have to obey.