Our society is still stuck in age-old thought processes, and even young girls are not spared. In a horrifying incident, 68 female students were humiliated by their college and asked to strip to confirm if they were on periods.
A piece of horrifying news has come in from Bhuj, Gujarat. As per reports, 68 female students from Shri Sahjanand Girls’ Institute (SSGI) were forcibly asked to remove their underwear. This was done to make sure these students were not menstruating.
According to reports, due to religious norms, women in this college are forbidden from touching anyone, entering the kitchen & temple during menstruation. Recently the warden complained to the principal that some students were breaking these “non-sense” rules.
After the complaint, principal Rita Raninga, called out 68 women who are pursuing their undergraduate degrees and made them remove their underwear in the washroom, to make sure they were not menstruating.
Ironically, this humiliating incident happened in a college which prides itself on the “self-development and empowerment of girls through modern, scientific, and value-based education”.
The college is managed by the Swaminarayan Dwisatabdi Medical & Charitable Trust. SSGI offers programs such as B.Com, BA, BSc, and has enrolled over 1,500 students.
The Swaminarayan sect’s norms state that girls, when menstruating, cannot enter a temple or kitchen. At the institute, girls are reportedly also barred from touching other students during those days.
One of the students, Durga (name changed), talked about the incident,
“The hostel administration levelled this allegation and insulted us on Wednesday. On Thursday, when we were attending lectures, rector Anjaliben called the principal and complained about this. We were forced to leave our classrooms and queue up outside in the passage.
The principal abused and insulted us, asking which of us having our periods. Two of us who were menstruating stepped aside, despite all of this, all of us were taken to the washroom. There, female teachers asked us to individually remove our undergarments to check if we were menstruating.”
When one of the students told a male trustee present that they will protest this and file a complaint, he responded saying they were welcome to go to court. However, the women should leave the hostel and sign a declaration denying that anything had happened to them.
The girls haven’t filed a police complaint so far.
They alleged that the administration called their parents and “emotionally blackmailed” them into not escalating the matter with the authorities, maintaining that it was a “religious matter”, which didn’t warrant being taken to the police.
After the news of the incident came out, Vice-Chancellor In-Charge, Darshana Dholakiya has promised that action will be taken against the people responsible. She mentioned:
“We will take strict action against whoever is responsible for this kind of behaviour.”
P.H Hirani, a trustee at the institute mentioned to Ahmedabad Mirror:
“We run a charitable organisation and take token fee. As the institute has a temple on campus, the girls have been instructed to follow the sect’s rules. However, what happened to the students is unfair. Action will be taken.”
According to reports, the National Commission for Women has promised to set up an inquiry team and visit the victims. The NCW added that both the principal and one of the trustees have been asked for an explanation.
It is disheartening to see that even in the 21st century our society treats menstruating women as un-touchable. What makes this incident worse is the fact that it happened at a college – a place, which is supposed to empower our women.
At IFORHER, we strongly condemn this act and hope these young girls will soon get justice. The people responsible for this incident should be punished to set an example for our society. It is high time that we stop making our women feel ashamed of something that is completely biological and in fact the reason behind the existence of human race.