‘Gujarat Model’: Anger at college harassing students over menstruation

‘Gujarat Model’: Anger at college harassing students over menstruation
A campaign against patriarchy and sexism in Jadavpur University, Kolkata (Source: Shutterstock) Team Careers360 | Feb 14, 2020 - 1:37 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: In what was sure to have been a humiliating experience, 68 undergraduate students in a college in Gujarat were asked to strip their undergarments to prove that they were not menstruating.

According to the Ahmedabad Mirror, the women are residents of the hostel of Shri Sahajanand Girls’ Institute (SSGI) in Bhuj, Gujarat, and were allegedly paraded to the hostel washrooms and forced to remove their undergarments. It was done after the hostel rector complained to the principal that the “religious norms” followed in the institute are being violated.

The institute’s mission reads “self-development and empowerment of girls through modern, scientific, and value-based education” but menstruating women are not allowed to enter the kitchen or touch fellow residents as per the hostel rules, the Ahmedabad Mirror reported. The hostel has a boarding facility for 68 girls who belong to remote villages, the report further added.

The hostel is run by the Swaminarayan Mandir in Bhuj and on the premises of Swaminarayan Kanya Mandir. The matter has not been reported to the police so far.

Later, the dean of the institute, Darshana Dholakia told Asian News International that the incident has nothing to do with the institute. "Everything happened with girls' permission, nobody was forced for it. Nobody touched them," she said. An inquiry team has been formed to look into the matter, she informed the media.

The news has invited strong reactions on social media, including from several politicians. Several tweeted “Gujarat model”, using a term associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP rule in Gujarat, but ironically. Before becoming the PM, Modi was Gujarat’s chief minister. Others sought to educate those on social media about menstruation. The rest were simply angry.

All India Mahila Congress called the incident “biggest injustice to the cause of gender equality.”

Imparting Menstrual Education

While some were angry, others tried against to disseminate scientific information about menstruation by posting links to handbooks and factsheets on the subject. They urged college authorities to look beyond religion and conservative dogma and accept the “normal physiological process.

Clarification: This copy has been updated to include more recent media reports.

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