Statement by Pinjra Tod on November 19, 2016
A fiery anonymous open letter by a women resident of Jamia Millia Islamia to the VC on the arbitrary cancellation of late nights in August last year, marks the inception of Pinjra Tod as a movement. It has been an incredible year of reaching out to each other, connecting, discussing and collectivising in Jamia. Overcoming our anxieties of a repressive state machinery intent on criminalising minority voices and institutions, conquering our fear of an administration that has repeatedly targeted students (especially women) for raising their voices, we came together in Jamia last Thursday (17th Nov), drawing confidence from our collective strength, to hold our first ‘public’ event: an exhibition celebrating the struggle of women for education, and a session of poetry, songs and sharing of experiences.
Women students reiterated that the UGC circular issued on 2nd May’16 is being shamelessly flouted by Jamia administration, as in all other Universities and colleges. There are no sexual harassment complaints committee (the program was conducted beneath a huge anti-ragging banner), libraries and other facilities on campus remain inaccessible to women students after 8 PM, random show-cause notices for ‘misconduct’ are a common practice, very little democratic space for women students to organise events/discussions/screenings within hostel spaces and continuous surveillance.
The administration should realise that the university continues to reproduce patriarchal and casteist structures for women and marginalised students. Despite increasing entry of women into universities, these institutions are not spaces that truly belong to them, especially for muslim, dalit, bahujan, adivasi, working class or queer women, who still constitute only a small percentage of women students in universities. Our struggle for building the university as a space of liberation and learning is not over, it continues in rage and hope, drawing inspiration and energy from the struggle that began with Savitri Bai Phule and Fatima Sheikh more than a century ago.
sabhi pinjron ko todenge, itihas ki dhara modenge! #pinjratod
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