Indian village bans mobile phones for unmarried women

A northern Indian village has banned unmarried women from using mobile phones.

Officials are worried that the moment kids are given a phone they will rush out and arrange their own marriages and end up being beheaded by angry relatives.

However the Lank village council decided that it was OK for unmarried men to use phones but only when their parents were watching.

Village leader Satish Tyagi has got himself in a lot of hot water with a local women’s rights group  which criticised the measure as backward and unfair.

The problem is that marriages between members of the same clan are forbidden under Hindu custom in some parts of north India.

In conservative rural areas, families still conduct honour killings, for those who violate marriage taboos. Village councils themselves have ordered punishments, though police often intervene to stop them.

Last month, 34 couples eloped in Muzaffarnagar district, where Lank is located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Among the couples who eloped, eight honour killings have been reported.

Three girls were beheaded by the male members of their family after they eloped.

In this situation it appears that the village is trying to stop honour killings, by making it more difficult for people to carry out the behaviour that causes them.

The Lank village council feared young men and women were secretly calling one another to arrange forbidden elopements so thought it was better to ban the phones. Yep, that will stop them.

Rulings by village councils , called panchayats and comprised of village elders selected by the community, are not legally binding in India,

The local women’s rights group Disha told AP that banning mobile phone use over sexual politics demonstrated the council’s archaic mindset, and warned it could put girls at a disadvantage in other areas of life.