Indian women banned from using mobile phones…

November 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

…..for their “own protection”, of course. I’m not sure who broke this story first, but it seems to have exploded everywhere now. A friend even emailed me today from halfway across the world to say he’d read it in the Egyptian Gazette. It’s a good example of how the media can take a story and really raise awarenes of an important issue we wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.

Photograph: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters/Corbis: Indian Woman uses her mobile phone

In the small village of Lank, in northern India, single women have been banned from using their mobile phones. It subjects them to the temptation of elopement, apparantly – reinforcing the idea that women cannot be trusted to make their own mature sexual and romantic choices.

Unmarried boys can of course still have phones, but are only supposed to actively use them under parental supervision. Good luck effectively enforcing that one. 

Does it apply to emails? Will letters be monitored? Are landline telephones forbidden? What about social networking sites? There are so many anomolies and problems with this as a tactic that it becomes ridiculous – it smacks more of an excuse to rid women of their independence as much as target any particular cultural concerns.Although this story is as much one of race prejudice (the village was reacting to more than 30 recent inter-caste marriages which went against the parents’ wishes) as sexual discrimination, it is a spot on example of how women are punished more than men. Of the ways that in times of cultural change and controversy, it is the women who are cracked down on, suppressed, seen as the irrational and irresponsible ones. Case in point: this article outlines so-called honour killings where three women were beheaded for eloping with a boy from a different clan.

There is no justification and no logic in this outdated, racist, sexist and frankly ridiculous measure.

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