The Principal Secretary of the Department of Women and Child Development, advised heads of educational institutions to keep reading rooms, libraries and laboratories accessible to students only during specific hours, besides restraining girls from venturing out of the hostel alone at night-time.
Urging educational institutions to take “preventive” steps to tackle crimes against women, he said: “Institutes should behave like strict policemen.”
Mr. Zalki’s exhortations came at a workshop organised by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to sensitise management and teachers of technical institutions to tackle the sexual crimes against women as per the directions of the Ministry of Human Resources Development.
Call for norms
Referring to instances of rapes reported near National Law School of India University (NLSIU) in Bangalore and of a medical student from Manipal University, Mr. Zalki said there was a need for institutes to come out with their own regulations. “There will be protests, but there is a need for this (regulations).”
Some of the other suggestions Mr. Zalki made were to install CCTV cameras across colleges, maintain a register at the entry and exit points and ensure that girl students don’t go out of the hostel between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Colleges should have a complaint redressal mechanism and display boards with safety messages. Another panellist, Renu Bapna, advisor to the AICTE, concurred with Mr. Zalki’s suggestions. “There are instances where women instigate men and that needs to be stopped.”
She urged managements to ensure “proper” dress code in college. “Dresses that are vulgar should be avoided.” Colleges should introduce value system and clinical psychology as a part of the curriculum, she said, and declared that cultural festivals were “centres of indecency and sexual harassment”.
Mr. Zalki’s and Ms. Bapna’s homilies drew flak from both students and faculty members who termed them “regressive”.
Later, asked by the media about the measures his department would take to ensure women’s safety, Mr. Zalki remained non-committal and said these were “merely suggestions” as security of women was a “complex” issue.
Lashing out against both him and Ms. Bapna, Pramila Nesargi, former chairperson of Karnataka State Commission for Women, said women’s rights should not be curbed in the name of protecting them.
“If [so], how can we expect women’s empowerment? Article 14 of the Constitution (which guarantees equality before law) will remain only in paper,” she said, winning a loud applause from the audience.