Minister rapped over ‘cur­few for hor­monal women’

New Straits Times - - World -

NEW DELHI: Fe­male stu­dents need cur­fews to pro­tect them from their own “hor­monal out­bursts”, In­dian women’s minister said, spark­ing ridicule on so­cial me­dia.

Many uni­ver­si­ties in­flict cur­fews on women while al­low­ing their male stu­dents free­dom to stay out at night, a pol­icy crit­ics say is sex­ist and out­dated.

Asked about the prac­tice on a tele­vi­sion talk show, Manekha Gandhi said it was to pro­tect young women from their own hor­mones.

“To pro­tect you from your own hor­monal out­bursts, per­haps a cer­tain pro­tec­tion, a Lak­sh­man Rekha (red line) is drawn,” she said in com­ments broad­cast on the NDTV news chan­nel on Mon­day.

“You can make it (the cur­few) six, seven or eight, that de­pends on col­lege to col­lege but it re­ally is for your own safety,” she told the stu­dio au­di­ence of col­lege stu­dents dur­ing a spe­cial show to mark In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day to­day.

Manekha said a sim­i­lar dead­line should be put in place for male stu­dents, but so­cial me­dia users ridiculed her for her com­ments.

“You know what would be safest? Lock hor­monal men in, in­stead of deny­ing women the right to lead a full life,” tweeted one critic.

Manekha, who is the sis­ter-in­law of op­po­si­tion leader, So­nia Gandhi, is no stranger to con­tro­versy.

Last year she an­gered women’s rights cam­paign­ers, ar­gu­ing for a law against mar­i­tal rape by say­ing that could not ap­ply in In­dia be­cause so­ci­ety viewed mar­riage as sacro­sanct.

She had also said schizophre­nia suf­fer­ers shouldn’t work, and called for manda­tory tests to de­ter­mine the sex of un­born chil­dren — a prac­tice that is il­le­gal in In­dia due to the risk of fe­male foeti­cide.

In 2015, women stu­dents in Delhi launched a cam­paign against the cur­fews un­der the name Pin­jra Tod (“Break the Cage”).

Univer­sity res­i­dences gen­er­ally jus­tify the rules with con­cern for the safety of young women in a coun­try where sex­ual vi­o­lence is wide­spread.

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