As per the SC’s orders on 27 November, Hadiya is all set to finish her education at Sivaraj Homeopathic Medical College in Salem, Tamil Nadu. The court relayed that her college dean may approach it for any help regarding Hadiya’s safety and well-being during the course of her education. Contrary to widespread media reports, it did not appoint him as her guardian. In her testimony, Hadiya had expressed her desire to live with her husband, Shafin Jahan. While that may not be a reality yet, Jahan was hopeful to meet in her college. Even the SC stated that Hadiya may meet whoever she wants to, as per her hostel’s rules.
But that’s where things get more twisted. According to a news report by The Week, the principal of her college, G Kannan, stated that he has no inclination to allow Jahan to visit Hadiya. He said, “I won’t allow Hadiya’s husband to meet her. Her parents admitted her here; only they can meet her.” It doesn’t end here. Another news report states that Hadiya is to continue her education as Akhila Asokan, the name given to her before she converted to Islam. Why is everyone determined to infantilise this grown woman?
Hadiya’s plight has received support from Pinjra Tod, the campaign against the regressive treatment of women in Indian hostels. On its Facebook page, Pinjra Tod posted what Kannan’s statements actually translate to for women’s autonomy in educational institutions.
It comes as no surprise that Hadiya is already on the way to being subjected to the treatment that countless women have lived through in Indian hostels. Remember, in September this year, when women in Banaras Hindu University staged massive protests against the harassment a student faced on campus? During the protests, many stifling rules for women in BHU’s hostels came to light. In November last year, NIT college’s hostel in Kozhikode, Kerala had issued a notice to women, decreeing them to not ‘roam with boys’. In May 2016, Delhi Commission of Women had issued notices to 23 registered universities and two institutes asking them to explain restrictions on mobility and discriminatory pricing for women hostel residents.
Hadiya’s battle against parental custody may be over, but she’s now gearing up to fight patriarchal conditions in her college. According to a news report, Kannan has retracted his statement and has said that he’ll allow her to meet anyone. While this is reassuring, it’s time for Hadiya to break the pinjra.