By Nidhi Kinhal
Women’s safety measures always manifest themselves in strange forms. While nights are particularly worrisome for women, and more regularly for working women, the most immediate response seems to be to lock women up, or pull them away from public spaces, to ‘keep them safe’.
Take the new policy at Lucknow’s Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University for example. Its women employees now need the vice-chancellor’s permission to stay on duty beyond 6pm. RC Sobti, the vice-chancellor, has expressed that it is to ensure that women’s safety on campus. University Spokesperson Govind Pandey mentioned that there have been several “untoward incidents” recently, which is why this is being implemented. Of course, how else could they have expressed their commitment to their women employees, by sensitising people on campus to be decent human beings? By taking appropriate actions against perpetrators of violence or discomfort? Naw, just send the women home.
Moreover, the heads of departments must inform the administration beforehand, if female students stay back to work as well. We wonder what simply informing a higher authority will do to reduce these “untoward incidents”. While several women from the university have questioned the new rules, one question asked by a female employee lingers on: “Is the university trying to shut out women in the name of security?” This might also be a way of ensuring that women aren’t out on the roads at night, trying to get home, but further alienating women from public spaces couldn’t possibly be empowering.
It is high time these ill-thought-out measures are done away with, so we can actually pay attention to treating women fairly at the workplace.