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India District Bans Cell Phones For Unmarried Women

India District Bans Cell Phones For Unmarried Women

This story is doubly problematic: a local council in Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India, has decided to solve the problem of young couples marrying outside their caste and against their parents’ wishes by banning unmarried women from carrying cell phones.

This is because the council is convinced that the 23 couples who have eloped over the course of the past year planned their secret weddings using cell phones.  Young women are forbidden to use cell phones, but young men can continue to do so, although only under their parents’ supervision.

Although caste discrimination is officially banned in India, in practice, the caste system is still a complex, rigid fact of life for many rural Indian communities.  There are even honor killings when the caste laws are broken, and intermarriage is one of the most serious infringements for conservative families, who will often only marry within their caste.  There are obviously gendered dimensions to this too, in that women seem to be held more accountable for the fact that the marriages are occurring.

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106 comments

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7:44PM PST on Jan 27, 2011

Any time you want to complain about a problem in this country, think of this story! Unbelievable!

1:15AM PST on Jan 10, 2011

Thank you very much Karthik T. for your comments. I don't understand this author. When she does not know anything about a particular place or its society, why does she have to create a 'cause' over it. A clear case of someone with too much time on their hands, and too little to do. I should also add, someone with too much time and too little knowledge about other cultures. We don't need ill-informed people creating causes.

1:45AM PST on Jan 7, 2011

Village council rulings have no legal significance, open contradiction of their rulings isn't even tantamount to a crime in India. Legislature in India does not endorse discrimination of any sort, caste-based or gender-based. Prejudice like this can only be eradicated by education. And come to think of it, the state in question has amongst the lowest literacy rates in India; the village where the ruling was passed probably doesn't have a single college graduate.
I admit my nation has a long way to go in terms of equality in general; but you can't hold the state responsible for the actions of the individual- that's no better than saying 'USA is Officially Homophobic' or 'France is a Racist State'
It's amazing how easily you Westerners will grab anything as the gospel truth when it says something negative about cultures far beyond your comprehension. I wander how many of you also believe that Chinese people eat aborted fetuses. (search this sentence on snopes to see what I mean.)

1:29AM PST on Jan 7, 2011

When you consider that this ruling was passed in a village of no mare than a few hundred people, it's no more significant than a schoolmarmish headmistress in an American high-school passing a tyrannical law to enforce her idea of discipline. The comments here reek of ignorance.

@Sheri P.
"That is sad. I can't imagine living in a place like that! I'm grateful to live in the US..."
Record-breaking number of incidents of serial killing across the nation? Men murdered in acts of homophobia? Schools forced to teach creationist mythology as an 'alternative' to actual science? This is sad. I can't imagine living in a place like that. I'm grateful to live in India.
You seem to be full of prejudice. And ignorance of the world in general.

@Alexandra
"Uttar Pradesh is in the Himalayan mountains"
Uttar Pradesh is in the northern plains, it isn't a mountainous state. You're probably talking about Uttarakhand or Himachal Pradesh in the far north.

12:56AM PST on Jan 7, 2011

Whoever wrote this article seems to be completely ignorant about the system of governance in India. This UNOFFICIAL RULE was passed by a rural 'panchayat'- the lowest rung in India's administration that acts as a kind of medium for communication between a village and the state government. They decide on matters of petty delinquencies and fund allocation for small infrastructural projects. Their rulings are NOT official legislature. No governing body below the district council has the right to pass a law.

11:49PM PST on Dec 3, 2010

uncredible

12:26PM PST on Nov 30, 2010

Has anyone seen the film 'Water?' http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0240200/

It makes me wonder if India will ever change. While it's great that they are making more of an effort to educate their children and get them to embrace technology to a certain extent, the fearful clinging to tradition will undoubtedly hold them back.

2:13AM PST on Nov 30, 2010

Meanwhile elsewhere in India, men are beaten for going on "Women Only" Trains.

9:29PM PST on Nov 29, 2010

Honor killings? Laws allowing males certain freedoms that are denied females? That is sad. I can't imagine living in a place like that! I'm grateful to live in the US...

8:59PM PST on Nov 29, 2010

I can't believe that parents in the U.S. are struggling over whether their 8 year old should have a cell phone while these grown women can be "forbidden" to have one.

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