Kerala’s women students, many of them from Dalit communities, are refusing to attend an examination on the university campus for fear that they won’t be able to attend the men-dominated institution.
According to the Kerala government’s Women and Child Development (WCD) department, around 20,000 students from the state’s three-year colleges will not attend the exam due to their fear of not being able to get a men’s hostel accommodation, which is located next to the examination centre.
The government has been trying to persuade the students to attend exams as the government is looking to get students from these communities to attend colleges as well.
In an email to Times of India on Wednesday, the department stated that they have been sending letters to all the colleges informing them of the decision.
“If they are unwilling to attend examinations, we will have to consider alternative options for them, as the colleges are located in the area,” a spokesperson from the WCD department said.
The students are also concerned about the safety of the college premises.
“The college is located in an area where we can not go and the men who are living there can not come to our dormitory,” said Pritam Raja, a senior student from an upper-caste community in Kottayam.
“We have been in touch with the police and the college administration to ensure their safety, but we are not getting any response.”
The students have also started a Facebook page called “A day without exams”.
It has over 2,600 likes.
“A few of us have decided to boycott the examinations, but a large majority of us will continue to attend,” said Raja.
The students also asked the government to release a list of the colleges in the state that they will not be able of attending.
“They should list them in an official document that they are not allowed to attend these exams, so that the students can be assured of safety,” said Ravi Kumar, another student from a lower-castes community in the city.
The government, however, has not released the list.
“There are many colleges in Kannur which are not available to the students,” a source in the WCTD said.