Making Muslim women cover up and segregate themselves has nothing to do with controlling them, don’cha know. It has nothing to do with restricting their lives in ways that make them more dependent on men, easier to control. It isn’t about subjugation. It’s about modesty.
Students of the Women’s College in Aligarh Muslim University are waging a bitter struggle for a facility their counterparts in other institutions would take for granted-access to the university’s central library.
Now, in a concession to these undergraduate women students, AMU has decided provided them online access to the catalogue of books. The varsity says the girls can choose the books which would then be issued and delivered to them.
The 100-year-old Women’s College, a constituent of AMU-a central university which had built a reputation for an enlightened social outlook-is housed in the fortress-like enclosure of Abdullah Hall. Except for professional courses, this is the only college providing undergraduate education to women in the university.
The women boarders of the hall are not allowed out of the college campus except on Sundays, so membership of the university library is ruled out for them. Even day scholars of the college are not allowed into the library, considered one of the best in Asia.
That’s right. The women’s college has its own library because the female undergraduate students aren’t to be allowed to mingle with the men who attend the other four colleges at the university or whomever else they may meet outside the gates. And–no surprise–that library in the women’s college is nothing like the equal of the library they’ve been excluded from.
Nor is that the only inequality these sequestered women face. Go to the Aligarh Muslim University website and find the list of colleges. Click on any of them but the Women’s College. You will see a list of departments next to the standard sidebar for the university.
Click on the Women’s College? You will see the picture above, of Abdullah Hall and the gates behind which the students must live for six days out of the week. If you click on “Courses” on the special Women’s College sidebar, which includes things like “Images”, you can find the degrees offered. They are all languages, humanities, and social sciences.
That is what undergraduate women are offered at Aligarh. An impoverished curriculum to go with their impoverished library. Of course, now the university is promising it will bring more books behind those bars. But what if they don’t? Where will these women go when they–and their educations–must stay so modest?