Scores of students today staged a protest outside Women and Child Development Ministry objecting to statement by Union Minister Maneka Gandhi advocating early hostel curfew to protect girls from “hormonal outburst”.
Demanding an apology from Gandhi, students from varsities across the national capital shouted slogans such as “hormonal outburst hokey rahega” and “lakshman rekha ki sarkar, nahi chalegi abki baar”.
The Union Minister had earlier this week made the statement in an interview to a TV channel equating hostel curfews with “lakshman rekha”.
“When you are 16 or 17 you are also hormonally very challenged. So to protect you from your own hormonal outbursts, perhaps a lakshman rekha is drawn. It really is for your own safety,” she had said.
Arguing that women’s safety cannot be ensured by “two gentlemen at gate with sticks”, one of the protesting students said, “What the minister had said was not just violative of constitutional rights of all women students, but also disrespectful of people coming from particular regions of the country.”
“We have been struggling against hostel curfew hours for the last two years and such a patriarchal statement by the minister is completely atrocious and unacceptable,” said Devangana Kalita, a representative of ‘Pinjra Tod’, a student campaign demanding no gender-discriminatory accommodations for women students.
What happened earlier:
Union Minister Maneka Gandhi today advocated hostel curfews for school and college students to protect them from their “own hormonal outbursts”, adding that the restrictions should apply equally to both girls and boys.
“Should there be a curfew? Yes. Should it be for both girls and boys? Yes, of course,” said the Union Women and Child Development Minister.
“I say this is as a parent. They should use the time to study,” Maneka added.
Earlier, on a television news channel, she had said, “As a parent who is sending a daughter to a college – or a son – I would expect her and him to be protected. And perhaps one of the protections is against themselves.
“When you are 16 or 17, you are also hormonally very challenged. So to protect you from your own hormonal outbursts, perhaps a certain protection or ‘lakshman rekha’ is drawn.”
However, Maneka sought to clarify her “hormonally challenged” remark, saying what she meant was that “students are excited about their new surroundings and freedom. They need a cordon of protection around them. By hormones, I didn’t mean anything sexual.”
Maneka defended curfews on the ground of “discipline” and said it is up to a particular institution to decide what hour they want to designate beyond which students will not be allowed outdoor.
Many took to Twitter to condemn her remarks.
Author Shobhaa De tweeted, “Maneka Gandhi seems to be having a hormonal outburst herself!!!Did she really (sic) say that? Curfew for girls? Happy International Women’s Day!
Apurva Vishwanath said, “I have #harmonaloutbursts during the day as well. What to do? Please suggest a suitable #curfew framework. Thanks.”
Another user asked, “You know what would be safest? Lock hormonal men in, instead of denying women the right to lead a full life.”
Maneka Gandhi also received flak for her comments about “Biharis” on the TV show.
In reply to a question on why can’t security be strengthened instead of imposing curfews, Maneka had said, “No, not by two Bihari gentlemen at gate with dandas (sticks). It has to be solved literally by giving time limits for everything…. Give them (boys) two nights to go to the library and two nights for girls — if you want to go to library, that is.”
Twitter users hit out at her for “regionalism” and for “stereotyping Biharis as guards”.