Smart women are sexy. Too sexy, apparently, for one university in India.
In what can only be described as gender discrimination, female students of Aligarh Muslim University have been denied access the main campus library.
In 1906, the Women's College was established as part of the university – decades before the Maulana Azad Library was built. However, female students of AMU have never been granted access to it, despite it being the largest library in India and the second largest in Asia.
Size is relative because, according to AMU’s vice chancellor, Lt. Gen. Zameeruddin Shah, the library “is packed.” He claimed that “the issue is not of discipline,” but then goes on to say that “there would be four times more boys in the library if girls were allowed in and that the space does not allow the same.”
These two statements seem to be contradictory. If the vice chancellor claims that discipline is not the issue – then what would happen if there are more boys than girls present in the library?
An Indian news channel tweeted about the matter, with a NoEntryForGirls hashtag.
Controversy over comment by Aligarh Muslim University VC, Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah, who barred girls from entering library #NoEntryForGirls— TIMES NOW (@timesnow) November 11, 2014
And the responses show just how the public feels:
@timesnow then why does not he bar boys from entering?— Priyambada Bastia (@priyambadananda) November 11, 2014
@timesnow shudnt that be a good thing? The library would be full ... Leading to some reading— Upasana (@YOUpasana) November 11, 2014
#NoEntryForGirls ?For serious? So he doesnt want library to be a crowded place? Trying to be elitist? Or bar girls from education?— Chandan Bhowal (@chandanbhowal2) November 11, 2014
VC of AMU said - #NoEntryForGirls in Library". Hahaha He thinks boys go there to study?? In Fact Girls go there to study. Ban entry for Boys— Chutkula (@chutkala) November 11, 2014
The principal of the Women's College, Naima Gulrez, seems to agree with the vice chancellor. “We understand the demand for access to the library. But have you girls ever seen the library? It is jam-packed with boys. If girls too were to be present in it, the discipline issue might crop up,” she said.
The National Federation of Indian Women's general secretary, Annie Raja, believes that the vice chancellor is unfit for his post and described his mindset as “diseased.” Barkha Shukla, the chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women, added that “if there is lack of space then expand the library.”
The library is a useful resource and for years female students have had to request books from their teachers or the librarian to have them transferred into their campus’ much smaller library – which is something of a hassle for any student who wants to read a book immediately.
Students from the Women's College are willing to compromise. The president of the student union, Gulfiza Khan, said that "if space is a problem, we can just issue books and not sit in the library."
Indeed it’s a shameful day when a university of such a caliber, which for a long time was considered one of the most renowned on the subcontinent, would prioritize one gender’s educational needs over another citing the lack of physical “space” to justify it.
Recommended: When Women Choose To Be Fearless, Magic Ensues