Image credit: Marcus Povey
“No, it’s only for the ladies.”
This time, ‘it’ is a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the husband, demanded by travel agents from women seeking visas. Official visa application websites don’t include this certificate on their list of required documents to be submitted, but travel agents insist that they cannot guarantee the sanction of a woman’s visa without it. Not, as Yoshita Sengupta’s article in the DNA Mumbai points out, that they can guarantee anything anyway.
The practice obviously stems from a pretty basic underlying idea: husbands are responsible for their wives, women couldn’t possibly travel without their husbands paying for it. When questioned further, some admitted that “it wasn’t really mandatory”, and were apparently floored by the idea that there did exist independent working women in the country who could travel without the assistance of their husbands. (BTW, the piece has a quote from the US consulate categorically denying any part in this madness.)
As mind-boggling as the phenomenon is, it did bring to mind this rather excellent protest poster:
Image credit: We Know Memes