Mumbai college sexism: Focus on education, not attire or seating, says minister

After the Government Polytechnic College in Mumbai demarcated different sections using ropes for men and women in the college canteen in the name of protecting them from sexual assault, Maharashtra state minister for higher and technical education Vinod Tawde told the college principal to focus on education.

Vinod Tawde. PTI

File image of Vinod Tawde. PTI

"I urge principals and vice-chancellors to focus on academics instead of issues relating to students' attire or seating arrangement," The Times of India quoted Tawde as saying. "We are living in an era of co-education... If there is a specific demand from girls, it should be met. If girls are wearing obscene clothes, they should be corrected. But there is no need for a blanket rule," he further said.

Swati Deshpande, the principal, had been quoted as saying by another report in The Times of India that this step was taken because "former students enter the campus and create a ruckus in the canteen, they misbehave with girls. In fact, one such incident had to be reported to police in October."

She had also said that she thought girls suffer from Poly Cystic Ovarian Diseases (PCODs) because they "dress like men", which leads to "a gender role reversal" in their minds.

This is not the first time that an educational institution is engaging in sexist practices. Denying the students from the Women's College access to the Maulana Azad Library in Aligarh Muslim University, its vice-chancellor Lieutenant-General Zameer Uddin Shah had said in 2014 that if girls were allowed, there would be "four times more boys" in the library.

In 2015, Farook College in Kozhikode, Kerala suspended a student who protested against the management's decision to crack down on boys and girls sitting next to each other.

Such 'measures' have been part of the Indian education system for a long time, despite the fact that a report by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has said that "the provision of safety for women on campuses must eschew the practice or tendency to be overly prescriptive to women by restricting their freedom of movement."

Updated Date: Feb 08, 2017 12:02 PM

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