Please write letter to National Human Rights Commission, Prime Minister, Chief Minister and Minster of Human Resource Development
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From: PVCHR Communication
Date: Sun, Sep 24, 2017 at 3:03 PM
Subject: Immediate intervention and judicial inquiry on lathi charge on girls doing non - violent protest at Banaras Hindu University
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, covdnhrc
Cc: Lenin Raghuvanshi
National Human Rights Commission
This is an urgent appeal to you to look into a matter of grave concern. Students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have been sitting on a protest, since 6 am in the morning of 22nd of September, to register their complaint against ongoing incidents of sexual harassment in the campus area. This protest was spurred off by a recent incident that happened in evening of 21st, when a student was on her way back to the hostel from the department.
She was stopped and harassed by some unidentified individuals inside the campus. When this incident happened, the girl immediately reached out to the security personnel posted nearby the spot. They refused to help and instead told her that it was her fault as she was roaming around on the road after dark. The incident happened around 6 pm in the evening. She went back to her hostel and shared her plight with her fellow students. The students decided to complain to the Dean of Student, but there also the girls were turned away saying that it was their problem and they need to be careful and not be outdoors after dark.
This is however, not an isolated incident, as students of BHU have been constantly raising issues of gender-based discrimination in the hostels since the last one year. They have been complaining of curfew timings in hostels, discriminatory food options in the hostel, where girls are only offered vegetarian food whereas boys hostels are constantly serving non-vegetarian food. Girls are also subjected to discriminatory polices, such as forcing them to sign affidavits that restricts them to participate in any agitation or protest, whereas boys are made to do no such thing.
Since the morning of 22nd of September, more than 1000 girls have gathered in front of the main gate of BHU and protesting against the insensitive attitude of the administration, especially the Vice Chancellor of the University. The student who was subjected to the harassment, shaved her head at the protest venue and joined the agitation. They are demanding for equal space and opportunity and not be treated as second class citizens in their own country, where their security and safety is not the responsibility of the state but theirs to bother. They feel unsafe and violated in a space that systematically blames and hold them responsible for every act of violence that they are subjected to.
We urge you to please recognize that there is need to take responsibility of the safety and security of girls by making them feel safe and free in homes and public spaces, rather than pushing them behind locked doors and under layers of cloth. Incidents of sexual harassment and abuse is not only a law and order issue but is a social problem. We therefore, need to take steps of sensitizing the university campus, teachers, security personnel’s, teachers, staff for their need to respond to women with dignity and equality.
On Saturday mid night police allegedly used force to remove the student who were protesting. Several students, many of them girls including media and police personnel were also injured. Police had locked the gates of the girls' hostels from outside. The hostel wardens have asked the girls to vacate the hostel by today until October 3, the prolonged Durgapooja holiday. It happens with the collaboration both state and non - state actors. Student were doing the peaceful protest.
Please find below are the demands as follows:
1. Judicial inquiry of lathi charge on the student
2. Immediate and prompt response on the demands of the girls doing peaceful protest
We earnestly hope that you will please act to stop this discrimination and take immediate action by directing the university to take action on the culprits and fulfill the demands of the students.
Lenin Raghuvanshi (Founder PVCHR)
Shruti Nagvanshi (Managing Trustee PVCHR and Convener Savitri Bai Phule Women Forum)
Shirin Shabana Khan (Program Director, PVCHR)