After coming under a cloud for allegedly denying equal access to women students in its main library, the Aligarh Muslim University, has once again been accused of bias against them. Some women staffers of AMU and rights group like Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) on Sunday alleged that women were barred from enrolling for the Undergraduate Courses in the main campus of AMU. Most courses there were open only for men, they claimed.
Former executive member of AMU Teachers Association and a faculty member of History at the AMU Women’s College, Shadab Bano told The Hindu that women who want to study in UG courses in Science, Arts and Commerce stream can apply only at the AMU Women’s College. Women can access the main university campus and departments only for Master’s programmes.
Zakia Soman of BMMA said such curbs at the UG level were “not a rights-based approach but flowed out of a policy defined by prejudices towards women.”‘No discrimination’
Vice-Chancellor Lt. Gen. (retd) Zameer Uddin Shah, however, rejected the charges. “There is no discrimination. Our percentage of girls is 42 per cent. We are building more hostels for our girl students.”
Last week renowned historian and Professor Emeritus of AMU Irfan Habib highlighted the “lack of resources, fewer number of seats and hostels for girls in undergraduate courses in the women’s college.”
“Normally in India, this is unconstitutional. You can’t have different standards for boys and girls in a university,” Prof. Habib told The Hindu on phone from Aligarh.
“The crucial issue here is restricting girl’s education to the women’s college, while letting the main campus be solely for boys. Only in a few professional courses like MBBS, LLB, BSW, B.E. and B. Tech, girls are allowed to access the main campus,” said Ms. Bano, while adding that AMU was “discriminating against girl students by not allowing them the option to choose courses offered in the main university campus.”
“Restricting girls’ education at UG level, which roughly means 29 courses, only to women’s college, means crippling their immense potential. The women’s college has meagre resources, including seats in courses, hostel and other facilities while the entire university is at the disposal of boys, which to my mind is a clear case of discrimination and is against the spirit of the Constitution which guarantees equal treatment to girls and boys.”
Explaining the way “discrimination” affects girls in AMU, Ms. Bano said that according to the AMU’s annual report of 2011-12, while girls can apply to only 15 seats in B. Sc. Physics (Hons) course in women’s college, boys have access to eight times more, 120 seats in the main campus. Similarly, for B.Sc. Mathematics (H) girls have only 20 seats in women’s college while for boys it is 120 in the main campus.
Prof. Anis Ismail, Dean, Students’ Welfare, AMU however said that in courses like Linguistics, Persian, Urdu, Education, History, Islamic Studies, Psychology and Women’s Studies, the girls’ share was larger than their counterparts.
Ms. Bano also pointed out that the merit list for UG courses was prepared separately for boys and girls. “Therefore the cut-off marks for selection in a particular course for girls is generally very high in comparison to that for boys. Why this unequal treatment? Is this how we ensure equality? How will women feel they are part of the main university when you discriminate like this?”