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Make Women Capable of Taking Care of Themselves, Instead of Locking Them In: Kerala HC to Authorities

The state and public authorities must endeavour to make girls and women competent to take care of themselves rather than locking them in, the Kerala High Court has said regarding the restricted movement in the women’s hostel of Kozhikode Medical College.

Justice Devan Ramachandran on Tuesday said that patriarchism even in the form of offering protection to women and girls has to be frowned upon as they are just as capable, as men and boys, of taking care of themselves.

The court also pointed out that even the regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC) mandate that in the guise of protection, the rights of students, especially women, to move around cannot be inhibited.

Justice Ramachandran also questioned the rationale behind imposing the restriction on movement of women and asked the competent authorities to explain the same.

“I am persuaded to make the afore observations also because, in the modern times, any patriarchism – even in the guise of offering protection based on gender – would have to be frowned upon because girls, as much as boys, are fully capable of taking care of themselves and if not, it must be the endeavour of the state and the public authorities to make them so competent, rather than being locked in,” the judge said.

The observations came on a plea moved by five female students of Kozhikode Medical College challenging a 2019 government order which restricted movement of hostel inmates of higher education institutions after 9.30 PM.

The women petitioners contended that this government order was only being implemented in their hostel and not that of the men.

They have also sought a direction from the court to the medical college to permit them to access the reading room or study hall or library attached to the campus and the fitness centre there without any time restrictions, “in the interest of justice, equity and good conscience.” The court, in its order, observed that one of the reasons for the restriction appeared to be that the students would find no reason to go outside after 9.30 PM because the reading rooms and the libraries would have been closed by then.

“However, there can also be situations where students would want to walk out in the nights, for other reasons, as they may deem.

This has been restricted through exhibit P2 (government order) and I am certain, therefore, that the competent authorities must come out with the rationale in imposing the said limitation,” the judge said.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on December 7.

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