A recent molestation case has shaken the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) and branded it a campus that is unsafe for women. Subsequent reports indicate that the university had taken strict measures to counter these incidents and installed four more CCTV cameras around the girl’s hostel.
What is left to be seen is whether the solution is really four more surveillance cameras to make the university a safer place for women?
Interestingly, we passed through the deserted Post Office road in the campus, the security post was unmanned at 2:45 pm.
Speaking to Pune365 on the condition of anonymity, a student of SPPU claims that there are very few lights on the roads making it quite worrisome for people after dark. “There are many roads that are deserted after sunset. I remember that when National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) came, the campus was very tight on security and there were a huge number of guards in the university. Once the NAAC left, the numbers of guards dwindled and security took a back seat.”
SPPU has also been at the receiving end of flak after 12 students were arrested consequent to a fight between two groups, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Students Federation of India (SFI) over burning issues at Ramjas College, Delhi.
“Even the fight between ABVP and SFI students was caught on a CCTV camera but that didn’t stop the incident from happening. With CCTV footage, you can only see the incident but the point is to stop it from happening in the first place!” explains another student living in the hostel.
SPPU is interestingly, one of the few universities in India to have a department dedicated to women’s studies with undergraduate and master’s courses.Sanjaykumar Kamble, a professor at Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Women’s Studies Centre offers another take on handling security. “The University should train its staff, security and students on gender sensitivity. All the security guards come here on a contract basis; they should be interviewed and checked. Earlier, the guards used to whistle at men and women students if they were even sitting together. They would tease them and ask them to give their parents’ numbers. It is the whole patriarchal perspective of this that needs to change. People think that sex-selective abortion is the only pressing gender issue. But that’s not the case!”
He further adds that after such incidents take place, the security is tightened on girls. “Instead of letting the girls be free, they are caged in their hostel and a very early curfew timing is imposed on them.”
Ironically, such incidents are occurring in a city that has a woman as the Commissioner of Police and now a woman who serves as its mayor. Hopefully, collective action will rid Pune of such incidents once for all.
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