Single Women Barred From Using Cell Phones in Indian Village

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A woman doing something perfectly normal that should absolutely be legal.
A woman doing something perfectly normal that should absolutely be legal.Photo: Dhiraj Singh/Getty Images

“Why do girls need a cell phone? Internet is a waste of time and money,” Devshi Vankar, the elected head of the Gujarat village of Suraj, told the Hindustan Times to explain why he barred unmarried women from using cell phones last week. I will say he makes a compelling point about the internet being a waste of time — I don’t want to think about how many hours I’ve wasted texting boys, reading celebrity gossip, and tweeting about my vagina.

Still, instituting a ban seems excessive. Vankar would rather girls focus their time on their studies, he said. If unmarried women are caught using a phone for anything other than talking to their relatives, they must pay a fine of 2,100 rupee (around $31). Whoever tells on them gets a reward of 200 rupee (or $2.92).

Community leader Raikarnji Thakor elucidated, “Cell phone use by women create[s] a lot of disturbance in society.” Again, a good point, although I’d argue that those “disturbances” make the world a much better place.

To state the obvious, the ban is really, really, really, really, really sexist. It just goes to show that a woman with access to technology is still a scary thing for folks.