A village in northern India banned unmarried women from having cell phones.
“Internet is a waste of time and money for a middle-class community like us. Girls should better utilise their time for study and other works…Everyone knows what happens in today’s world due to mobile phones. This is Kalyug. This is an era of Whatsapp, where people secretly talk with each other. We have to save girls from those who acquire their number and harass them or try to lure these innocent girls.”
Reportedly villagers agreed with the decision, as cell phones were viewed as tools used by young people to leave their homes and elope.
How is this any different for young men? Why is it not a waste of a young man’s time and money to use a cell phone? Why are there no measures against the men actually harassing women on What’s App? Or even more simply, men using their cell phones for general communication/ dating?
The crux of the answer is simple, women aren’t equal. Our womanhood is virtuous and inherently guilty, thus the need to “save” us and blame/punish us in the same breath. This law effectively reiterates the pervasive norm: a woman’s worth and value as a citizen is derived from her husband or her family, but not herself. The decisions we make as individuals for our own life cannot be trusted, especially if it goes against what society has planned for us.
I don’t know if it’s more scary that this law exists, or that most of the villagers (including women) “support” this law – that for them young women having freedom and choice in the form of cellphones is dangerous.
We all need to continue to scream, fight, and yell against a society that teaches girls that we are guilty by default, that we deserve the unjust practices against us, and that we cannot make decisions for ourselves. We aren’t, we don’t, and we can.