The Kerala High Court on Wednesday questioned why only girls and women need to be “controlled” or “locked up” at night and asked the state government to ensure they are given the same freedom as boys and men.
Judge Devan Ramachandran said there was no need to be afraid of the night and the government should make sure it was safe for everyone to go out after dark.
The observations were made while hearing a plea from five female students at Kozhikode Medical College challenging a 2019 government order restricting access to higher education after 9.30pm Actions for institutional dormitory prisoners.
In hearing the matter, the court questioned why only women or girls needed control and not boys or men, and why the curfew for women in the medical school dormitories was set at 9.30pm.
“Girls have to live in this society too. Will the head fall off after 9.30pm? Will the mountain collapse? The government has an obligation to keep the campus safe,” the court said, asking whether the state had a curfew for any boys there. .
The court also said questionable people should be jailed.
Judge Ramachandran also said he had been said to challenge the restrictions because he did not have a daughter.
The judge said he had relatives who were girls who lived in hotels in Derry where they studied and there were no such restrictions.
The government said the restrictions were in place to take into account the concerns of the girls’ parents.
The court said it was considering the concerns of the women and girls’ parents, but in the meantime there are other hotels in the state that don’t have curfews.
“Are the children living there without parents?” the court asked.
It also said it would not blame the government if parents wanted girls or women locked up at night.
“Let us not be afraid of the night. The freedom given to boys should also be given to girls,” the court said.
On the final day of hearing the matter, the court had said the state and public authorities must work to empower girls and women to take care of themselves, rather than lock them up at home.
It also said that patriarchy, even in the form of protections afforded to women and girls, must be opposed because they are as capable as men and boys of taking care of themselves.
The female petitioners argued that the 2019 government order was enforced only in their dormitories, not the men’s.
They also seek the court to direct the medical school to grant them access to the reading or study rooms or library attached to the campus and the fitness center there, without any time restrictions, “in the interests of justice, fairness and good conscience.”
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)
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