It is a well established fact that India, as a country preaches and tries, in several ways to instill a sense of regressive attitude towards its women. From the lists of atrocities committed against women, the recent one is this: Thakor community in Gujarat have banned cell phones and inter-caste marriages for unmarried girls.
It is bizarre to even think of something like this happening in the 21st century, when we are so inclined and dependent on technology in our everyday. While the ban of technology might sound like a ‘noble’ act for many, the reality from which this ban has stemmed, is purely because of caste and male hegemony within the community.
On the 14th of July, in the 12 villages of Dantewada taluka in Banaskantha district in Gujarat, a strict resolution was passed against the use of cell phones by unmarried women.
Thakor community is the sub caste of Koli community, and is involved in agrarian mode of production as their means of living. On the 14th of July, in the 12 villages of Dantewada taluka in Banaskantha district in Gujarat, a strict resolution was passed against inter-caste marriages and the use of cell phones by unmarried women. This was decided by the community heads and leaders from all villages belonging to the Thakor community.
Geniben Thakor, who is the Congress MLA from the Vidhan Sabha Constituency said that she supports this new resolution against the use of cell phones by unmarried women. She belongs to the Thakor community, and is strictly against inter-caste marriages. By implementing this ban, she said, such incidents “could be put to end.”
It is interesting to notice the shift in ideologies of Congress party member whose party is known for being ‘liberal’, especially when the BJP imposes its linear ideologies. Congress, in my opinion, seems to be the product of the neo-liberal society that uses feminism to promote free-market, like a matter of tokenism. That is, while the Congress MLA supported this ban, she said, “I receive distress calls daily from parents whose daughter has run away with a boy (from another caste). Also, in the past one month there have been nearly 10 cases of young boys and girls jumping into canals and committing suicide.”
Using the sentimentalism of family, it becomes easier to sell the idea of ‘protecting their women’ from ‘other’ men. Since it is important to keep women alive and save them from “jumping into canals,” the imposition of this ban seems justifiable to the community. This is followed by further penalty, that is laid on parents who let their female children use cell phones. If found unmarried women using cell phones, the family is said to be charged a fine of rupees 1.5 to 2 Lakhs.
The Thakor community’s main source of income is agriculture. They work in farm land owned by wealthy landowners or they own small pieces of land in which they work, along with their families. By imposing a large sum of money on the farmers of rural village, the establishment of the ban becomes an actual reality that nobody would dare to cross.
This is followed by further penalty, that is laid on parents who let their female children use cell phones. If found unmarried women using cell phones, the family is said to be charged a fine of rupees 1.5 to 2 Lakhs.
The local community leaders of Thakor caste use the same technique of imposition to maintain a sense of power over the families and especially women, belonging to their caste. What is also very important to be addressed here is the Congress MLA’s reply when asked about why they had not imposed the ban of cell phones on unmarried men. She said, “This will automatically control boys. Since girls are easily controlled because they stay with parents, it is right to ban (mobile phone use among) girls.”
This ban laid laid against the usage of cellphones by unmarried women is being justified and propagated within the community under the blanket of “enhancing women’s education” and through this ban, they would concentrate on studies “without any distractions.”
There are different ways through which patriarchy runs the society. This instance from Gujarat acts as a testament to the existing violence committed in the name of caste and gender that otherwise is unacknowledged or denied.
Featured Image Source: Just Dial