The safety of women, especially those on night duty, is threatened by strangers on the prowl in JIPMER campus.

Following some complaints from women postgraduate students and staff, the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) has taken steps to make the campus safe for women. Students feel that the initiative is a step in the positive direction, but all is not all rosy on campus.

According to official spokesperson for JIPMER, K. Mahesh, around three months ago, the Director of the institution T. S. Ravikumar decided to strengthen the security system and introduce measures to provide a safe environment for women on campus.

Security was increased almost threefold and women students were given a list of phone numbers, from the security in-charge to the heads of departments, who they could call when they were in trouble. These numbers have been posted prominently in several locations on campus.

The women staff and students were also asked to carry their ID cards at all times, to make it clear to probable attackers that they were doctors and on duty. In addition, streetlights were installed so that the students could move safely.

JIPMER has sensitised staff, students and the security on the importance of safety. It is important that the students feel safe at all times, since they could be called to come on duty at any time of the day or night. Unlike other colleges, there are no curfews in the hostel and there are a number of people who walk in and out of the hospital and around the campus at all times. It is therefore critical that our students feel at ease, Mr. Mahesh said.

The students, however, feel that the scene is not always rosy.

One of the postgraduate students said the security team, although it is much better now, leaves much to be desired. There have been a number of cases in hostels where strangers walk in and walk out and no questions are asked.

Often, when women walk back from duty, men on motorcycles pass lewd comments and sometimes even touch them inappropriately. There were several cases like this . Now with the new security measures, there has been a decline in such cases, but the security of women continues to be threatened.

The gates are always open, and there are no checkpoints, which means outsiders can walk in and out freely without being verified at any point of the day or night. The declining security has led to the reactivation of the Junior Resident Doctor Association, which had remained dormant for two years. It is the postgraduates who face most problems, since there pressure on them to perform and they are often assigned duty late at night. Even during the day there have been some incidents of eve teasing, but these are minimal. The undergraduates seem to be relatively at ease. Many of them confessed that they did not often go out at night, because they finished classes by 4.30 and did not have much work outside.

Second year MBBS student Palak Gupta says she did not encounter any problem when she went out for practice for the culturals, she returned to her room only around midnight. A group of first year students, including Stephanie and Vini from Meghalaya, Yarang from Arunachal Pradesh, Vairu from Manipur, Deki from Himachal Pradesh, Tenzing from Sikkim, Suman from Rajasthan and Madhuri and Pranita from Andhra Pradesh said that they usually did not stay out late at night, and so far they had not faced any problem on the campus.