By Sharanya Gopinathan
It’s being reported that a village panchayat in Mathura has decided to fine women for using mobile phones outside their houses. While some news outlets report that the fine will amount to Rs 21,000, others say that the figure is Rs 2100.
It’s the details that make it even weirder: the ban is not against women using cell phones, but against women using cell phones outside their homes. We don’t understand what cause this distinction is meant to serve, but it seems the village elders believe it will somehow stop men and women from eloping. Not sure why couples just can’t meet at a spot they decide when talking on the phone inside their houses, but that is of course not the point at all. It’s obviously a huge restriction on the rights and mobility of women that comes from an irrepressible male desire to control women, their bodies and mobility.
But on the other hand, it could maybe be a navigation issue. It feels like this panchayat has taken the words of BJP MLA Sanjeev Raja too seriously: just last week, he said that girls should be banned from using mobile phones as it causes them to “go in the wrong direction”. Maybe this panchayat believed him and feels like girls usingDoes Mathura’s Elders Think Women Using Cellphones Outside Homes will Make them walk in the wrong direction? cell phones outside the house will ensure they all walk in the wrong direction and get lost somewhere.
Just kidding. The Superintendent of Police in the area took the whole issue quite seriously, and told the Hindustan Times that they wouldn’t allow this ban to be implemented. AK Singh said, “We will take action against any such complaint wherein a girl is restrained or is penalised for using a mobile phone and no panchayat would be allowed to dictate the rights of women.”