A bus stop bench reduced to three separate seats as an alleged moral policing measure to prevent girls and boys from sitting together prompted students of both sexes from a nearby engineering college to sit on each others laps and post pictures of the same, resulting in the city mayor on Thursday promising a modern gender neutral waiting facility there. Thiruvananthapuram city Mayor Arya S Rajendran visited the area on Thursday after the photographs posted on social media by the students of College of Engineering Trivandrum (CET) went viral.
After visiting the area, the Mayor, in a Facebook post, said the manner in which the bench was cut into three seats was not only ”inappropriate”, but also ”unbecoming of a progressive society” like that of Kerala.
She said that there is no ban on girls and boys sitting together in our state and those who still believe there should be such a prohibition are still living in ancient times.
”One can only sympathise with those who do not understand that times have changed,” she added.
Appreciating the stand taken by the CET students, Rajendran said a responsive generation is the hope for the future and the local authorities were with the students in the matter.
She further said the bus stand was dilapidated, unauthorised and lacking clearance from the Public Works Department and therefore, a new gender-neutral one with modern facilities will be built there by the municipality.
CPI(M)’s youth wing DYFI also reacted to the incident, saying that those who try to impose old-fashioned moral concepts and do not believe in gender justice are a danger to society.
Such people need to realise that the world is changing, the DYFI state secretariat said in a statement and added opposition to freedom of movement and personal liberty under the guise of moral policing will not be accepted.
It said that vandalising the bus stand bench to prevent boys and girls from sitting together was offensive and unacceptable.