NEW DELHI: The state of higher education for women in Kerala is highly discriminatory and indifferent. Separate rules for boys and girls, and constant cases of harassment in the name of security are quite normal in these institutes, said educationist Meenakshi Gopinath, while submitting the report on Gender Justice on campuses in Thiruvananthpuram.

Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) commissioned the report, which was chaired by Gopinath, who is also the Principal of Lady Shri Ram (LSR) College of Delhi University.

In the name of security, girls are being cloistered behind the gates of the hostel and a constant environment of surveillance is what is being practiced in these institutes. Separate rules for boys and girl where boys are given an extended liberty to stay out till late while girls are hardly allowed any liberty is adding to the oppression of the young girls, she said.

She further said, that it’s not only young student but even women research scholars too who are made to acquiesce to discriminatory rules by their supervisors, who wield their authority by controlling the power to grant internal marks, which causes a spiral of silence to take place among bright young women.

Gopinath pointed out that the situation is almost apartheid like in these institutes where boys and girls are made to sit on either side of the class--divided by a curtain. It didn’t come as a surprise to her that the hostels are becoming “virtual prisons” for these women and these institutes have taken their role as ‘in loco parentis’ very seriously, to the detriment of the essential liberty of the women.

She suggested that gender sensitization programs be conducted in every institute of higher learning in the state, and by the time student passes out, he/she should have attended at least one such program or workshop. The committee also prescribed that more number of women be recruited in higher rungs of the education apparatus, and issue of hyper-masculinity be addressed, among other things.

The committee based its finding on a survey done through a detailed questionnaire which asked the students questions like-- whether there is a) proper lighting in hostels, b) toilet facilities for women, c) health facilities for women, d) accommodation, and e) counseling service for students.

There were queries also which were addressed to the students on the presence of CCTV cameras, women vigilance committee, female security guard, patrolling squad, and if there were any provision for workshops on gender sensitization.

The committee advised that Kerala implement the ‘Saksham’ report compiled by UGC, in letter and spirit, which had in it a detailed redressal system and suggestions to tame the gender problem in campuses.