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So patients with hepatitis, The study has been accepted for publication in the coming issue of the Journal of Clinical and Translational Hepatology. we are at the campus of Tilak Dhari (TD) College in Jaunpur.Students having written their exams file out on to the narrow street running through the campus which houses PG and degree colleges a sports field and the principal’s residence Yadav’s anti-Romeo squad has just finished its evening patrol noticing nothing amiss Yet men on bikes dart in and out of the street groping and catcalling They spare no one including us Also accosted are a group of Class XII students returning from coaching classes and a mother-daughter duo In a stretch of about 500 metres men stalk girls on foot snatch their dupattas and stare Women walk quickly purposefully and only in groups Outside the campus the densely packed streets of Jaunpur are even more aggressive A Muslim-majority district Jaunpur voted for the BJP in the last assembly election Over the last few months several cases of harassment and molestation have been reported from the city and rural areas In one instance five primary school teachers were molested by a village pradhan In nearby Sonbhadra district a group of men hacked a woman’s husband to death and grievously injured her father-in-law when they protested against the harassment Nineteen-year-old Aradhna a Bachelor of Arts student at the Tilak Dhari PG College (affiliated to the Poorvanchal University) says it is frightening to walk the streets of Jaunpur “It is common for boys and men to whizz past on their bikes grab us or say something dirty” She says many of her female classmates simply prefer not to come to college to avoid the daily anxiety “Forget streets we are harassed in class in front of teachers who can do nothing” she says Groping and catcalling are routine on this 500m stretch in the TD College campus Jaunpur (Photo: Pavithra Chandrasekar) Nikita 22 an MBA student and a former TD College student tells us about a girl who wore jeans to college one day instead of the uniform (trousers shirt and blazer) She was pulled up by the dean for going against bharatiya sanskar The professor proceeded to take a photo of her on his phone and posted it on Facebook along with a scathing post on her disrespect for shlf1314n values So far the anti-Romeo squad in Jaunpur appears to have done little other than empty popular haunts for couples in the city In cases where Yadav has caught “Romeos” the boys have been let off after talking to their guardians “Ab guardians ko inko control karna hoga” she says Arya the head of the Varanasi anti-Romeo squad paints a more optimistic picture Over the last month since the squad hit the streets there has been an increase in complaints under Section 354 (assault or criminal force against women with intent to outrage modesty) he says Cases of stalking rarely reported are now being filed “Almost 10 cases of online harassment are reported every month now” says Arya But women of the state have questions: How can anyone but I discern a man’s intentions good or bad Who can I take my complaint to where I won’t be victimised Why is a system created for my protection taking away my independence Here There and (Harassment) Everywhere What are the safe spaces for women in Varanasi “None” comes Rizwana’s reply As a graduate student at Sanjay Memorial Women’s College just two-three kilometres from her home in the neighbourhood of Lohta the 23-year-old was stalked for three months “I didn’t know who I could complain to Finally out of frustration I turned to my teacher” As a working woman in Varanasi now she has a list of dos and don’ts: Don’t talk on the phone in autos or while walking people may think you have a boyfriend; don’t wear white men will call you a widow; don’t wear anything revealing (no sleeveless low neck short tops or skirts) you’re asking for it; don’t hang around anywhere even if they are public places; don’t text WhatsApp or Facebook a man too much you’re giving hints; don’t be seen at notorious places like Ravidas Park in Varanasi you’ll get a reputation; and don’t hold hands in public Replace Varanasi with Mirzapur or Jaunpur and you’ve got a rough guide that every girl in UP swears by A couple at Varanasi’s ghats (Photo: Pavithra Chandrasekar) Meeting her boyfriend now says Rizwana has become more difficult Avoiding the prying eyes of family neighbours and now anti-Romeo squads takes a toll “When he came to see me off at the railway station last month before I left for Delhi we were scared to even hold hands Not just the police but vigilantes clad in saffron scarves were everywhere To not be able to embrace the person you love most to be scared of that is a sad thing” she says In early April a group of men calling themselves the anti-Romeo squad stopped two young men and a woman when they were returning to the BHU-IIT campus at 11 in the night The men were beaten up one of whom sustained severe injuries to the head In Allahabad too students have reported instances of vigilante groups harassing couples and groups The state has asked police squads to back off couples but can self-appointed custodians of morality be controlled Twenty-five year-old Jyoti Maurya a student of Arya Mahila Degree College in Varanasi has seen harassment just outside her home in Bhelupur on the streets and on campus “It is so bad outside my home that we are considering moving” she says “In college I never exit from the front gate it is not for me In the city we have been told repeatedly to avoid certain streets” We are meeting Maurya at Madhuvan Park inside the BHU campus which is notorious for being Harassment Central Reserved and mild-mannered Maurya slowly opens up about the endless strategising involved in daily life She follows rules dresses conservatively and minds her business “I am okay with restrictions but even the little space I have in the city they’ve taken it away” she says “Parents are also in a predicament” says 50-year-old Meera a Chitrakoot-based journalist and mother to five girls three of whom study and work in various parts of UP “They are scared of letting male members of the family accompany girls If they’re caught badnaami hogi This leads them to curtail the movement of girls” If the streets or public places are not safe are campuses at least safer “It is our college administration that is doing the job of the anti-Romeo squads” says a student of Vasanta College for Women which is affiliated to the BHU “The administration asks family members and friends who come to visit or pick up their wards to prove their identities Even police squads don’t” Mineshi Mishra a student at BHU (Photo: Pavithra Chandrasekar) The approach of the university administration at BHU especially says Mineshi Mishra a second-year student at the central university is to restrict the freedom of women Girls’ hostels on campus are governed by a strict set of written and unwritten rules she says Girls are not allowed to talk on phones after 1030 pm; they have to be back in their hostels by 7 pm; until recently they didn’t have access to the university’s 24×7 library; they are required to give an undertaking that they will not participate in protests Violations of any of these rules invite harsh punishments which includes publicly naming and shaming or branding them as ashleel (obscene) women “They (university administration) will say ‘you shouldn’t be touched’ they will never say to the harasser that ‘you shouldn’t touch her’ When I complain of harassment they turn a deaf ear We don’t need anti-Romeo squads that have no gender sensitivity training What we need is a functional grievance cell The entire security system created for women wants to box us into a type No girl is one type The university the society and the police want to discipline women our bodies minds and souls” says Mishra The university campus — be it BHU or Poorvanchal University or Kashi Vidyapeeth or any of their affiliated colleges — is rife with tales of harassment of women Over the last few years BHU has seen a spate of serious charges of sexual violence filed by women on campus which have often been met with shoddy investigations According to a University Grants Commission report submitted in Lok Sabha BHU registered 15 cases of sexual violence against women in 2014-15 second to Jawaharlal Nehru University (25 cases) “The university is just not equipped to handle these cases And now the anti-Romeo squad is just window dressing” says professor Anita Singh of the English department Places within the BHU campus such as the Birla Hostel (for boys) or Madhuvan Park are infamous for harassment — there are hashtags and jokes dedicated to them But if a complaint is made as was the case last year when girl students complained of harassment by boys of the Birla Hostel the administration turns the tables on the complainants asking them to explain their presence outside these places “The university has the attitude of UP’s former patriarch in-chief Mulayam Yadav” says Singh “Boys will be boys women should be careful” A man is detained by an anti-Romeo squad in Lucknow (Photo: Pavithra Chandrasekar) The birth of a movement In the last few months however BHU has seen a mutiny by women unafraid to articulate their demands They have sat in protest on campus and bared their souls online They have appeared on news channels and told the world that this is no country for women “My professor told me she was ashamed of teaching me” Mishra says They see the anti-Romeo squad and its unofficial offshoots as the newest instruments of a system that seeks to curb their freedom by “building a fortress of security around them” This is echoed by women outside the university too in Varanasi and in districts like Mirzapur and Jaunpur They seek protection not from Romeos but from the moral policing that comes with patriarchy and the perception that they are weak Aparna Tripathi a first-year postgraduate student from Mirzapur says “UP mein to chedkhani ki bahut problem hai Lekin ab ladkiyan sher ban chuki hai Koi ladka dekhta hai to ruk kar wapas puchhti hai bataiye kya baat hai (This is a big problem in UP But we have become bold like tigers When a man stares we stop and ask: what are you looking at)” Some names have been changed on request Kotamraju and Chandrasekar are independent journalists who write on rural development and gender For all the latest Lifestyle News download shlf1314n Express App More Related News they always comment on us. founder-director of Centre for Environment Education (CEE), “‘I’ll give it to Mrs Sarabhai’,Paytm and MobiKwik along with the government’s Unified?” he said. 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