AHMEDABAD: In a traumatic incident, staff at a college in Gujarat allegedly forced 68 girls to remove their underwear to prove they weren’t menstruating, reports said.
According to a report in the Ahmedabad Mirror, the incident took place on Thursday at the Shri Sahjanand Girls’ Institute at Bhuj after the hostel rector complained to the principal that menstruating students had violated “religious norms”.
The students were allegedly paraded and forced to remove their underwear to prove they weren't on their period. The school norm required menstruating women to avoid physical contact with other students and stay out of the kitchen and a nearby temple.
According to one student, the students were interrupted during lessons, publicly asked which of them was on her period, and forced to take off their underwear in a restroom. Another student said the harassment was routine.
India Today quoted a trustee telling the girls that they were welcome to go to court, but imposed two conditions: they should leave the school hostel and sign a declaration denying that anything had happened to them. The students were also allegedly made to sign a letter claiming that “nothing had happened in the college
The college is affiliated to the Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kachchh University, which has said it will look into the matter and take action if the reports are true.
A Wire report said that SSGI advertises itself as an establishment that believes in providing “quality education of global standards on a strong foundation of Indian values and traditions to girl students based on current advances in science, technology and societal demands”. It also places “emphasis on commitment progress, peace, harmony and national integration”.
The college campus houses a school that runs classes from Class 1 to 12. They provide hostel facilities to the school students. The college does not have its own hostel. We live with the school kids in their hostel.”
The girls haven’t filed a police complaint so far. They alleged that the administration called their parents and “emotionally blackmailed” them into not escalating the matter, with the authorities maintaining that this was a “religious matter” that didn’t warrant being taken to the police.
Asked to comment on the matter, trustee P.H. Hirani, told the Ahmedabad Mirror: “We run a charitable organisation and take token fee. As the institute has a temple on campus, the girls have been instructed to follow the sect’s rules. However, what happened to the students is unfair. Action will be taken.”
In April 2017, a similar incident occurred in government-run Kasturba Gandhi Junior Residential School in Khatauli, Uttar Pradesh. A warden forced 70 female students to strip naked so she could check if they were menstruating. This happened after the warden got “angry” when she spotted blood in the toilet and “no-one owned up to” it. Surekha Tomar, the warden, was later terminated from service, the Wire report said.
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