New Delhi: In a rather humiliating episode at a girls’ college in Bhuj, nearly 68 undergraduate students were taken out of their classrooms, paraded to the hostel washroom and forced to remove their underwears one by one to prove that they were not menstruating.
The incident took place at Shri Sahjanand Girls’ Institute (SSGI) in Bhuj, after the hostel warden complained to the principal, Rita Raninga, that some girls in the hostel were violating their ‘religious norms’, especially the ones associated with menstruation, an Ahmedabad Mirror reported.
Ironically, the college also proclaims its mission as “self-development and empowerment of girls through modern, scientific, and value-based education”.
The hostel authorities had allegedly found a soiled sanitary pad thrown in the garden outside hostel earlier this week and suspected one of the inmates to be behind it. As a result, the authorities wanted to identify the ‘culprit’ who violated the hostel’s rules and teach them a lesson.
According to the hostel’s so-called guidelines, menstruating women are not allowed to enter the kitchen and temple area and are also forbidden to touch other students. This reinstates the age-old taboo related to women’s health and menstruation.
The stigma associated with menstruation has been a constant battle for Indian women who are almost treated as ‘untouchables’ during their cycle. As if it is not already difficult for a woman during the week, hundreds of ‘norms’ follow like they are not allowed to socialise, enter the kitchen or their place of worship; women must bring their own utensils and clean them once their menstrual cycle is done, and many more.
One of the inmates who was forced to undergo the traumatic experience said they were queued up, abused and insulted by the principal of the college and were forced to remove their underpants to prove whether or not they were on their period.
College trustee PH Hirani told Ahmedabad Mirror that the girls have been instructed to follow the sect’s rules as the college runs on a charitable organisation. However, he admitted that the incident was unfair and that strict action will be taken against the hostel authorities.