A first-hand account of a girl student of BHU of what it was like to live in the campus.
First year at BHU — I was instructed the last-in time for first year girls was 7 pm for my own safety and I complied. One fine summer afternoon at 3 pm, a (female) friend and I were walking back from the swimming pool to Gandhi Smriti Mahila Chhatravas (GSMC) along the semi-circular road no. 5. A guy on a white scooter came out of nowhere and stopped just next to us, took out his dick and started masturbating! At the age of 17, I had my first and unwarranted exposure to the male organ, in midday in the centre of the university. My friend and I were baffled and we just ran as fast as we could to the (present) Ramanujan hostel. The same year, a friend was groped at 5 pm near Vishwakarma hostel by two guys on a motorcycle. They were grinning and smiling as they hit her on the chest and of course this is masculinity! My first year taught me to avoid the semi-circular road no. 5, for my own safety.
Picture of IIT-BHU, taken in 2011.
Second year at BHU — The last-in time for girls was 8 pm and I complied for my own safety. We asked for one more hour to participate in extra-curricular activities and we were told that girls of ITBHU demand a lot and the last-in time for Mahila Maha Vidalaya (MMV) was 6 pm. Yes, classic! Pit females against each other to maintain dominance. Of course, the spirit of Mahamana was invoked and how hurt it would be because we participated in extra-curricular activities by proctors and administration alike. That year, I learned to schedule extra-curricular activities early in the morning and/or on the weekends, for my own safety.
Third year at BHU — I went for morning jogs at 6/7 am along ITBHU road (called RR10 on google maps) and road from SBI office to Hyderabad Gate. I was followed from the corner of Vishwanath Temple to the Dhanrajgiri Hostel by the scooter guy (yes, the one from the first year). I stopped at the juice shop to throw him off. And yet he followed me all the way to GSMC. I had the good sense of making a mental note of the vehicle number. When I complained to the guard and warden of GSMC to warn him and ban him, the guard told me he was an acquaintance of one of the resident academics. I asked my male friend to accompany me on my jogs, for my own safety.
Fourth year at BHU — I think it was Sept/Oct when a friend was almost kidnapped from a cycle rickshaw on the corner of Visvesvarayya and GSMC hostels at 6 pm in the evening. The proctors were merely 200 meters away at Hyderabad Gate and yet the perpetrators had the audacity to kidnap a girl. Thank the quick thinking of her friend who held her tight and the kidnappers had to let her go. The street in front of the hostel was dimly lit. The girls of GSMC protested fiercely and asked to increase the safety. After a week of protesting, bright halogen lights were put on the street and proctors made to patrol on the entry of the block. However, proctors only patrolled boys and girls walking together and not the perpetrators. And within two weeks, those moral policing proctors were gone too. We all we were left with our own judgement and decided only to take auto rickshaws for our own safety.
BHU boasts of being one of the oldest universities of India and of moral policing, which is probably as old as the institute. Victim shaming and moral policing are woven into the fabric of the university administration, proctors, and police. The recent account of students protesting in BHU makes my blood boil as it did 10 years ago when I joined the institute. It disgusts me that things have not changed in the last ten years and the campus remains as unsafe for women as 10 years ago.
“यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता:। यत्रैतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वास्तत्राफला: क्रिया:।”
Ironically, this doesn’t apply to the spiritual city and one of the oldest education hubs of India.