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.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.