Want to stay safe? Leave campus before 6 pm: Lucknow varsity’s diktat to women employees
The V-C of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University issued an order directing that if women are needed to stay for longer hours under compelling circumstances, they will have to seek prior permission.
LUCKNOW: Once again, the onus has fallen on women to ensure their own safety, even on office premises. Instead of making it a safe place to work in, the administration of a university in Lucknow passed the diktat that women staff should leave premises by 6 pm.
The vice-chancellor of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU), Lucknow, has issued an order directing the women staff not to stay on campus beyond 6 pm. In case they are required to stay for longer hours on special occasions under compelling circumstances, they will have to seek the prior permission from the V-C himself.
R C Sobti, the V-C of the central university, said that on regular days, the women staff, including administrative and faculty members, would have to leave the campus before 6 pm. He claimed that the order was passed to ensure the safety and security of the women working on campus.
"The intent behind the move is to secure women generally from increasing cases of harassment on campus," said BBAU spokesman Govind Pandey. He added that the initiative would also help the women employees to reach home in time before it got dark. With the sex ratio of 912 women per 1000 men, UP’s total share of all India crimes against women has varied between 17%- 14% during the last one and a half decade.
“The V-C has passed the latest order in the wake of a number of complaints from women staff about their harassment on campus. In recent times, they have been at the receiving end in many cases. So in order to avoid such situations, such an order has been issued,” Pandey stated.
He added that heads of all the departments were told to inform the V-C office in advance if any girl student is working in laboratories beyond 6 pm. However, BBAU women employees have objected to the diktat claiming that it was an attempt to restrict their freedom. "Is this the way to women empowerment? It is all hogwash," said Avantika, a research scholar claiming that she was often required to be on campus much beyond 6 pm in connection with her research work.
Condemnation came through from other quarters also. "They only talk of parity and hardly practise it. Freedom for women is only rhetoric," said a student pursuing graduation in science. On the other, a woman administrative officer on campus attributed it to male chauvinism calling it an attempt to shut out women in the name of security. "What about the money (Rs 1 crore) spent on installation of CCTV camera to curb the harassment incidents against women on campus?" she asked on the condition of anonymity.
Criticism poured in from male staff too. The university has two doctors — one male and another female — who are deputed in night shifts on a rotation basis every alternate day. "If the woman doctor will not be allowed to do the night shift, how far is the male doctor expected to slog on night duty?" asked a staffer of the university dispensary, claiming that the order was bound to hamper health services on campus.
However, a female faculty member raised the pertinent issue saying if the order was applicable for all women, then what about the hostellers who were allowed to be in the scholar's room till 8 pm and also the library which remained open from 8am-8pm. "What if the girls are harassed at these places?" she asked.