Crime | India | Relationships | Religion

Indian Village Council Issues 'Diktat' For Women: No Cell Phones, Love Marriages, Or Uncovered Heads


No one, to my knowledge, has polled the inhabitants of the village of Asara, in the Uttar Pradesh state of the world's largest democracy, for their thoughts on marriage equality. If their feelings on women's rights are a hint, it's a way off. 

Raw Story reported yesterday that the "predominantly Muslim" village's "panchayat" -- a kind of coucil of elders -- has decreed that women under 40 may no longer use cell phones, lest they use them to pursue unwholesome relationships with young men. Nor may women enter into "love marriages" -- that is, marriages not arranged by their parents. And they must cover their heads in public. 

Asara's panchayat has no actual legal authority, but that doesn't mean it's toothless. From Raw Story:

Although their rulings carry no legal weight, they can be highly influential and have been blamed for numerous abuses, such as sanctioning “honour killings” of women whose actions are deemed to have brought shame on their family.

Asara's inhabitants are apparently largely pleased with the panchayat "diktats" on women's behavior ... 

... saying they would help prevent young women being misled and forming unsuitable relationships.

“Mobile phones are a curse, especially for girls. I would have been more happy if the panchayat had completely banned girls from using mobile phones,” villager Tarun Chaudhary told the Mail Today.

Police in Uttar Pradesh are already investigating the new panchayat diktats, and hope to make arrests should anyone try to enforce them. But even now, without a single arrest warrant signed, law enforcement's in trouble. From DNAIndia:

Police yesterday questioned Mokim and Mujahid, residents of Asara village, in connection with the diktat.

"Protesting the police action, a mob gathered in front of the Asara sugar mill demanding the duo's release. They beat up two policemen, who had gone there to clear the traffic jam, and torched their motorcycle," IG (law and order) BP Singh said here today.

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  1. You can use a cell phone to pursue unwholesome relationships with young men?! I had no idea!

    Um, now where did I put that cell phone?

    Posted by: james | Jul 14, 2012 2:41:56 PM

  2. It saddens me when I see Muslin women in the west wearing the hijab, niqab or burka and say it's their choice and they do it to honour religion when it's really about misogny.

    Posted by: craig | Jul 14, 2012 2:53:43 PM

  3. Stupid backward women in a stupid backward country, following a stupid backward religion.

    Posted by: russ | Jul 14, 2012 3:01:48 PM

  4. Motherfcking Muslims. 'Nuff said.

    Posted by: Munro | Jul 14, 2012 3:14:59 PM

  5. @Russ referring to Maggie Gallagher?

    Rural isolation breeds incredible amounts of stupidity.

    Posted by: Mike B. | Jul 14, 2012 3:38:41 PM

  6. If only we could ban women from using cell phones in the USA. The traffic accident rate would plummet as well as the inane chatter index.

    Posted by: patrick | Jul 14, 2012 3:53:03 PM

  7. Welcome to American under the Christian Taliban. There are already Christian sects in that US that practice exactly the same.

    Posted by: Steve | Jul 14, 2012 4:15:24 PM

  8. @ Russ: you're simply dumb

    Posted by: Alejo | Jul 14, 2012 4:46:37 PM

  9. I totally agree with the diktat about cellphones because there were never, ever any liasons between young men and young women before cellphones were invented.
    I just learned last night from American Dad that kissing causes pregnancy.
    And the gays are to blame, too.
    Stupid idiots.

    Posted by: BillyDee4 | Jul 14, 2012 7:42:10 PM

  10. So, who is gonna be damaged with all of that? Just those backward people and their primitive religion. All in all, furiously opposing change is a sign of fear of an already foreseeable defeat. If they stay the same, they lose, anchored in archaism. If they change they lose, being exposed to daring new ways.

    Posted by: Lexxvs | Jul 14, 2012 7:49:55 PM

  11. I guess you really hate women, eh Alejo?

    Posted by: russ | Jul 14, 2012 9:24:01 PM

  12. Generalize much, Russ?

    Posted by: David | Jul 15, 2012 12:18:44 AM

  13. As a black person this is gonna sound reductive but here is what has clicked in my head just now: The middle east, and particularly fundamental islamic regions are basically just like Africa; it's backwards, weird and third-world. This makes me sad that so much of the world is 'uncivilized' by western-centric standards. I thought at least most of the world was civilized and we just had to work on Africa. I don't wanna live on this planet anymore.

    Posted by: Solomon | Jul 15, 2012 12:26:59 AM

  14. @Russ: I don't hate women but I certainly respect them, far more from a person like you who on the name being forward is doing nothing but only establishing sweeping generalisation.

    Posted by: Alejo | Jul 15, 2012 1:53:01 AM

  15. @Solomon: You're aware that this story is about a place in India, which is in neither the Middle East or Africa, right?

    Posted by: InscrutableTed | Jul 15, 2012 2:20:11 AM

  16. People who are blaming this on Islam don't really know anything about India.

    Love marriages are controversial throughout India, including the 80% of Indians who are Hindu. Violent mob action against social progress happens amongst the Hindu population too (there was a story about a low-caste Hindu who was beaten to death for doing better on school tests than his high-caste classmates). And the panchayat is a traditional form of Indian government that has nothing to do with Islam.

    I'm not saying Islam couldn't have been a factor, but to automatically blame this solely on Islam seems silly in the context.

    Posted by: InscrutableTed | Jul 15, 2012 2:35:50 AM

  17. Face it folks. Islam is one of the most serious challenges to human freedom and equality in the world today. Much of Judaism and Christianity have been defanged and forced to behave in a more civilized manner. Not so with Islam. It is still its old primitive self.

    Posted by: andrew | Jul 15, 2012 3:32:22 AM

  18. No religion teaches us hatred it's the people who play dirty politics on the name of religion to satisfy their own pity needs and this is very much visible in any a lot of Islamic country. Nevertheless, the problem is not religion but the patriarchal, selfish, orthodox, anti-democratic, theocratic mindset of the people which unlike in countries like Iraq, Iran, Sudan, UAE,etc is obviously neither legally nor politically sanctioned or protected in the India so, I hope sooner better than later these institutions would be defenestrated. And people in India generally do arrange marriages because they have been up brought that way and it's not at all a bad thing , the bad thing is forced marriage. And Idk in India there is love marriage is a new thing either.

    Posted by: David | Jul 15, 2012 3:38:21 AM

  19. It's so evilly patriarchal. Ever wondered why only women are prevented from using cellphones and not men.

    Posted by: David | Jul 15, 2012 4:04:51 AM

  20. @David: Religion is indeed a big part of the problem. Read the O T again and see how Yahweh teaches his followers to deal with their enemies. Read the Koran for equally horrific messages.Look to history for many examples. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the European Protestant vs Catholic Wars, the Spanish Conquistadores slaughter of the "soulless" Incas and Aztecs, the Salem Witch trials and on and on. Even today when people say they are anti-gay they use the bible as the source of their hatered.

    Posted by: andrew | Jul 15, 2012 4:59:56 AM

  21. Religion is the root of all evil. Does religious faith do some good? Yes. But it is overwhelmed by the evil that it causes. Humanity should follow the path of science and reason and not myth and superstition.

    Posted by: andrew | Jul 15, 2012 5:24:19 AM

  22. @ Andrew I would still say that it's not the religion but the theocrats who are tampering and misinterpreting the religious texts and hence misrepresenting the religion to their benefits. It's the time people should identify their true politically motivated faces under behind the mask of religion.

    Posted by: David | Jul 15, 2012 7:29:09 AM

  23. I am from Indonesia, and although we are not an Islamic country, we are still the country with most Muslim population. What can I say? We don't have that kind of scary law in Indonesia, but really, Islam IS misogynistic. But then again, the same goes to all major religions we have in our time. To say otherwise is being apologetic and living in denial is never a wise thing to do. I hope these women are strong enough to escape that ridiculous law. Fight back, or escape. It's not easy, but you always have a choice!

    Posted by: darkorient | Jul 15, 2012 1:46:05 PM

  24. @InscrutableTed,

    Did you actually read Solomon's post?


    Let's not p*ssy foot around:

    The 1st world which has full gender equality and the most person freedoms, diversity and respect of the individual are

    North America
    Western Europe
    Parts of South America
    New Zealand

    Other nations in Asia and elsewhere are also in the 1 st world but are still very misogynistic. Pretty much all non-western societies are very misogynistic and less accepting of individuality and differences. Sorry if this offends some people but it's true.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jul 16, 2012 7:18:01 AM

  25. "Other nations in Asia and elsewhere are also in the 1 st world but are still very misogynistic."

    And the social progress of the "1st world" was not achieved by racist, misogynistic right-wing facists, Ratbastard. And you know who the I'm referring to.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 16, 2012 11:32:16 AM

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