Indian Village Bans Unmarried Women And Girls From Using Mobile Phones

from the sexist,-moi? dept

It's fairly widely accepted that the key digital device in the future will be the mobile phone, not the desktop computer that has had such an impact on Western society for the last few decades. That's partly a question of cost -- if devices are to reach even the poorest in emerging economies, they must be very cheap. But there are also other factors, such as the mobile phone's small size and portability; its rugged design and ability to cope with intermittent power supplies; and the built-in Net connectivity that more or less comes as standard.

But not everyone is delighted at the prospect of this powerful technology becoming pervasive. Here, for instance, is a depressing tale from India:

A village council in the state of Bihar this week prohibited unmarried women and girls from using mobile phones, saying that they promote extramarital affairs and unsanctioned marriages and erode the moral fabric of society. Married women will be allowed to use them only indoors and in the presence of a relative.
Well, perhaps mobile phones have indeed contributed to affairs, but logic dictates that there was probably a man at the other end of the conversation, and it's quite likely he was using a mobile phone too: why not ban all unmarried men and boys from using them, and only allow married ones to make calls under supervision of their relatives? The answer, of course, is that this is not about "eroding the moral fabric of society", but about power, and in particular the erosion of traditional male power in the village:
Many villagers, male and female, attended a village meeting Sunday about the ban, and most favored it, particularly older people, Mr. Alam said. He presided over the meeting. The panchayat [unelected council], which is made up entirely of men, also barred women from bathing outdoors, at water pumps or in ponds or canals.
Moreover:
The village's top elected official, Shamina Khatoon, a woman, was not invited to the panchayat’s meeting on Sunday.
Which is pretty strange, since she is both the top official in the village and a woman, and so might be expected to offer a useful perspective on the proposal.

Other comments from the New York Times article indicate that Indian officials are investigating the matter, which at least offers some hope that the ban will be rescinded. Whatever happens, this incident confirms that one of the best ways of empowering women and weakening the grip of patriarchal power is to help them acquire them mobiles cheaply. Moore's Law and mobile companies eager to sell phones and contracts to anyone, whatever their gender, will make sure that happens whether the village elders like it or not.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Tunnen (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

    Seriously, I think I've far exceeded the amount of BS I can absorb in one day... I just don't understand how the human race as a whole can be this idiotic... From bank robbers with no common sense, to abuse of power by officials, out of control greed, PC vs Christmas, political childishness, and all this racism and sexism... It's too much! I'm going to go curl up under a rock for the rest of the week for fear of what will happen next...

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 1:10pm

      Re: SOSDD

      Orly? It's the same crap that's been going on forever: "Chess will lead the the downfall of society" "Electric lights will only promote rape" "Rock and roll music is the leading cause of moral bankruptcy" "Violent video games create psychopathic murders" "Teleportation will be the leading cause of bank theft" (etc etc ad nauseaum).

      Seriously, same shit, different day. Never ending cycle, apparently.

       

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      Nigel (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 1:14pm

      Re:

      No doubt.... one step forward, three steps back this week.

      Nigel

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2012 @ 7:51am

      Re:

      Dear India,

      It's 2012.

      Sincerely,
      teh interwebz

       

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    Arsik Vek (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 1:14pm

    Who needs roofies when you've got Verizon?

     

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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 1:27pm

    I'm moving to Bihar because I can now watch a movie without the background noise of teenage girls talking about their text messages.

    I'll send postcards.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 1:38pm

    Well, there's always craigslist. Or maybe they'll just go back to carrier pigeons to convey their adulterous messages.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 1:53pm

    Technology promotes progress, humans promote retardation.

     

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    Paras Tolani, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 2:04pm

    ridiculous

    Sexist Bihar

     

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    gorehound (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 2:09pm

    "The village's top elected official, Shamina Khatoon, a woman, was not invited to the panchayat’s meeting on Sunday."

    LOL ! Sounds like the GOP are now in India.

     

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      in_to_the_blue, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 3:48pm

      Re:

      is it a sign of madness or sadness that i laughed at that? it's just so fitting

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 4:17pm

      Re:

      Except the GOP do not ban women so your joke is nonsense.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 5:19pm

        Re: Re:

        "Except the GOP do not ban women so your joke is nonsense."

        Define "ban".

        The American Taliban have attempted to enact much more draconian measures than this, perhaps you missed those news snippets.

         

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    Divide by Zero (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 2:21pm

    Good god. Why am I not surprised though. And if course it's popular with the older ones, stuff like that always is. Not all older people, mind, but certainly they do tend to have more clinging to the old ways.

     

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    out_of_the_bob, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 2:33pm

    Are they sexist? or prepared?

    How typical of Michael Masnick (who did not write this article but i'm certain maintains a psychic link with Moody) to advocate more innocent people to become subject of the mental drain perpetuated by the great Googlenet. Much like a yoke saddles an ox, Google saddles the human race with their cleverly disguised mobile tracking devices which wirelessly drain the human psyche with the power of their reptilian influence. Even now google's satellites are understanding, coming to full terms with the mental influence that thousands of enslaved humans all around the world as they plan their eventual leap from google-enabled technology into our spirits to permanently close our third eye (Apple users will be forced to use the web version of this app).

    Of course the Yurimnars and Yorgps of Techdirt wouldn't understand the true intentions of the google L'serbauns. They have already been enslaved by the google mental network, preventing those just like these commenters from connecting the dots and seeing how Google is truly enslaving the human race one techdirt story at a time. It's a common tactic on calling these village elders sexist, when we should be thanking them for having the spiritual insight of seeing straight through the google conspiracy and protecting their women from the vile influence of Google. It is comforting to know that even people halfway around the world are taking measures to protect themselves from the various Google arms that are stealing portions of our lives, bit by bit. When the great yarmpnt happens and we become little more than slaves to the reptile elder gods who permeate time and space, the only ones left with a free spirit will be the hoarders of tin-foil, me, and the women of Bihar.

    REMEMBER THAT MIKE MASNICK IS NO MORE THAN A FLESHY PAWN OF THE SCALY GOOGLE ELITE

     

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    Old Fool (profile), Dec 5th, 2012 @ 3:10pm

    Enter your zip code here

    When I was young I had sex with a girl who did not have a mobile phone!

     

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    in_to_the_blue, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 3:47pm

    one of the comments on the linked article sums my feelings:

    I think India would be better off banning old people. They can be a real pain when they stick around too long.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 5:31pm

    From what I saw on "20/20", there aren't very many women or girls in Indian villages.

     

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    AmbroseChapel, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 7:43pm

    I'm reminded that when stamped mail and mailboxes were introduced in Victorian England, there was very much the same kind of moral panic. Young women could now send and receive messages independently of their family and servants.

     

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    souehfes9h (profile), Dec 6th, 2012 @ 2:43am

    Bihar

    No surprise. Bihar is particularly known for its lawlessness. This is just another example of how arbitrary village councils can get. This attitude that "leaders" need to make rules for the rest of us is quite representative of India.

     

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    lfroen (profile), Dec 6th, 2012 @ 3:30am

    Yes, they are sexists. So what?

    Not every society on face of Earth is developed in same way. Some went forward, some little late, while others are stuck in equivalent-to-medieval.
    What's so new about it? Go to Africa and see tribes hunting with spears and/or praying to totems. Or go to some muslim countries and see local Inquisition version in action.

    In short - give them 100 years and they will change many of their ways.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2012 @ 4:01am

      Re: Yes, they are sexists. So what?

      If they haven't changed by now, what makes you think 100 more years will make any difference?

       

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        lfroen (profile), Dec 6th, 2012 @ 4:20am

        Re: Re: Yes, they are sexists. So what?

        Either they will change or they (as a culture) will cease to exist.
        There's no law of nature that says "every culture must be preserved forever".

         

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    Gregg, Dec 6th, 2012 @ 8:19am

    it's asshole men like this....

    That give the Good men bad names! If they are worried about extra marital affairs, maybe they should start treating their women equally, fairly and nicely.

    A little respect goes a long long ways.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Dec 6th, 2012 @ 10:58am

    Don't Feel Too 'Holier Than Thou'

    Before we get to feeling too superior to these backwoods, retrograde, patriarchal idiots...let's not be too cocksure.

    (I loved using that word here.)

    Lets we forget, we're the country of "legitimate rape", mandatory internal ultrasounds, and other such fundamentalist fantasy.

    We may be ahead of Sunderbari Bihar, on an evolutionary scale, but not by much.

    Now, what I say we do to solve this problem is to send Kevin Bacon into their town, and baby, just start danciiiin.

     

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    Shamiul Islam (profile), Dec 15th, 2012 @ 7:30am

    This a bad sign in this era of science and technology.Also this type of experience is really acrid.

     

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