Guest Post by EFLU Alumni and Other Concerned Individuals
[ This is a statement prepared by some alumni of EFLU, in the aftermath of the rape of a woman student on campus last week. The statement was then shared on the social media for endorsement. Those who had drafter the statement say that they “…were overwhelmed by the support shown by a cross section of people including alumni, not just practicing academics and students of other universities, but also techies and bankers, journalists and professionals.” The statement is intended to be seen as an expression of solidarity with the complainant, in appreciation of her bravery and as a means of extending support to the EFLU community who are trying to fight for gender justice in innovative and inclusive ways. ]
This is a public statement condemning the rape of a girl student in the hostels of The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. We express our solidarity with the complainant and demand that the guilty be punished. Happening within the university space, this action by the student’s peers shocks and saddens us, but also points at the deep entrenchment of patriarchy even within the most radical of spaces.
It has come to our notice, both through newspaper reports and via accounts of students in the social media that instances of gender violence has been escalating in the university in the recent past. While no academic space is free from gender discrimination and/ or violence, erstwhile CIEFL and the formative years of EFLU were known for the relatively free ways in which men and women could access common space, move about the campus in relative safety. The community also nurtured various publics that repeatedly foreground concerns of gender, sexuality, caste and religion.
However, in the recent years, and especially in the aftermath of the rape, instead of attempting to sensitise the campus to enable students to cope better with the university space, the administration has chosen the path of gender segregation and closing down most of the public spaces of the university. The administration has repeatedly voiced gender discriminatory statements, questioning women’s movements and viewing all male students as potential rapists. At the same time, UGC directed Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) has not been constituted in EFLU-Hyd since January 2012, student members having already finished their courses and moved on. It has to be kept in mind that gender justice cannot be ensured only by looking at it through a the lens of punishment and redressal- even though GSCASH is not the answer, it is still the first step towards attempting to sensitise the campus and to take gender justice seriously.
The EFLU community has spoken out against this violence- but both the media and right wing forces have been active in shaming the complainant, in questioning her state of inebriation, her presence in the hostel and mourning the “lack of Indian culture” in EFLU. In these troubled times, we once again voice our support to the brave complainant who must not be shamed or blamed for her choices and action. We also express our solidarity with the EFLU community who have taken it upon themselves to build a more inclusive campus by not hiding this act of violence under the carpet (as the administration has tried to do) but by making their presence felt, their voices heard, and dialogues being initiated. It is time to put an end to gender violence in our universities.
EFLU Alumni and other concerned individuals
If you would like to endorse this statement, follow the link to the facebook note hosting it, and add your name in the messages section below the text of the statement
Also, kindly share and circulate the statement widely, with the hashtags #EfluCommunityForGenderJustice, #EfluChutzpah.