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Telangana govt’s diktat on ‘married women a distraction in colleges’ is squarely regressive

To begin with, it is squarely undemocratic, if not also constitutionally illegal, for state-run institutes to discriminate against a section of eligible students on the basis of their marital status.

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Sometimes unmarried women, and at other times married women become the cause of ‘distraction’.

 The Telangana government has acted with bizarre thoughtlessness by taking a step-fatherly attitude towards married women students, instead of encouraging them to continue with education after matrimony. A Times of India report stated that in a circular released by the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS), only unmarried women have been invited to apply for admission in the 23 degree colleges providing education, food and accommodation free of cost to women from backward communities. This has been going on for a year. The reason cited: visits by husbands of the married ones would cause ‘distraction’ to the unmarried women students.

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The government’s priority should obviously be to provide educational opportunities, rather than levy laughable barriers to it. To begin with, it is squarely undemocratic, if not also constitutionally illegal, for state-run institutes to discriminate against a section of potential eligible students on the basis of their marital status. The cited reason is regressive to the core – that the sight of a few men walking through the campus once in awhile will ‘distract’ and derail girls off their courses. As if unmarried girls never come across men as friends, boyfriends, teachers, in the streets and as coworkers. Are sightings of men a bigger threat than lack of education?

One wonders if they would ever dare to ban married men from colleges. Married men with families have long shared hostel premises with their bachelor counterparts – the phenomenon is rather common in Indian educational institutions where separate accommodation for married students is usually unavailable. So why must the women’s education suffer because they are married — especially when in considerable Indian communities — including in Telangana — girls are encouraged by their families to marry at a relatively young age.

And still, if somehow the government is so ‘concerned’ about the ‘distraction’ caused to unmarried women by the visits of husbands of their married counterparts – it is their duty to figure out a solution to it, perhaps by providing separate floors or buildings for accommodating married and unmarried girls. Instead, in a country where illogical censorship, patronizing attitudes and bans seem to have become daily fare, this “solution” roughly seems like an absurd diktat of ‘chop the arm if the finger aches’.

First published on: 02-03-2017 at 06:06:11 pm
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