"The Sunderbari village council in a Muslim-dominated area east of Patna, the capital of Bihar, has also imposed a fine of 10,000 rupees ($180) if a girl is caught using a mobile phone on the streets." [Yahoo News]

31 Responses to “Villagers: women with cellphones 'debase the social atmosphere'”

  1. DisGuest says:

    Hey, well at least the married women get a discount. /s

  2. Daedalus says:

     It’s not every day you find a clear-cut case of the voices of women being literally silenced…

  3. You think highly of your readers to assume we’ll know where Bihar is without your mentioning the country.

  4. Bihar is a state in northern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at 38,202 sq mi (98,940 km2) and 3rd largest by population.

  5. fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

    Oh India… It’s this sort of quality local governance that forced us to get the feds into the business of enforcing civil rights, sometimes with armed force, over on our side of the pond. Perhaps you should try that.

    • Shashwath T.R. says:

      Local government? Nah… Try busybody village elders with lots of time on their hands…

      This would be constitutionally illegal…

      • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

        Governance. So long as the ‘busybody village elders’ can exercise the coercive power, the unconstitutionality isn’t worth a damn. Hopefully the local government will be able to assert itself. If not, then it’s up to the next level of government to step in.

        As with the American examples I was referring to, a bunch of fancy, progressive ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ don’t amount to jack in the face of backwards local strongmen until the state that ostensibly assures such rights goes in and lays down the law.

        • Shashwath T.R. says:

          Point is, it’s not actually something they could take to court and enforce.

          The head of the district administration in India is called the Collector, and districts are subdivided into “Tehsils”, which are headed by a Tahsildar. Both of these officials are professional civil servants (IAS officers, technically). The district magistrate too is usually a professional, and not an elected official. Generally, if the collector cares enough, they can put a stop to this kind of thing. In this case, it looks like the collector does care enough to at least investigate…

          The North Indian Khaps (village elders councils) have been rather active as of late, proposing such critically important things as a ban on same-gotra marriages (long story – basically, pseudoscience), inter-caste marriages, cell phones and jeans. They’re creating enough annoyance in the air that I see an anti-Khap uprising in the near future. This is just one more, that seems to have made it to the international media.

    • Wreckrob8 says:

      Not so simple. If this is a religious argument, ‘nice Muslim girls don’t…’ as opposed to ‘those Hindus who do…’, then the British (under the Raj) share a large part of the blame in creating the modern subcontinental religious identity. The primary classification in the British census was according to religion (no doubt at the instigation of the increasingly troublesome and vociferous Christian missionaries and proselytizers) and they are as yet unable to escape our externally imposed sense of identity. Normal suppressive or oppressive tactics.

  6. Andrew Kay says:

    Draconian opression doesn’t debase the atmosphere one bit, though, no sirree

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      Empirically speaking, oppression is part of the atmosphere for most cultures throughout human history. 

      Sure, there’s the wacky food, and quaint local dress, and maybe some festivals or something; but “culture”(wherever it is practiced, this is by no means a ‘oh, just those primitives, you know’ thing) is, in no small part, a question of hierarchy, power, control, and the legitimate users and targets of coercive violence. 

      • Andrew Kay says:

         For real, but the enforcement of rules that most people disagree with tends to leave a sick taste in the mouth. (I’m going to give people the benefit of the doubt and say it’s a vocal minority who support this shit)

  7. Jeff R. Allen says:

    My question is why only girls? Wouldn’t our public spaces be nicer without a bunch of earphone-wearing, iPhone-stabbing zombies walking around? Here in Switzerland, old ladies still say, “Bon jour” when you pass…

    • Gyrofrog says:

      Yep, I was going to ask if I should feel bad when I don’t top hat someone – regardless of gender – who is texting (or smoking).

    • Ryan Lenethen says:

      Have you seen a teenage girl with a cellphone?
      Probably trying to hide inadaquate phone infrstructure due to collapes under the pressure of text messaging!

      I kid of course. It is a terrible thing indeed.

  8. angusm says:

    Presumably men with cellphones don’t debase the atmosphere in the same way.

    Of course, the real question here is how Biharis have access to such advanced features on their cellphones. Even the iPhone 5 doesn’t yet have gender-linked atmosphere-debasing as an option, despite Apple’s claims that “there’s an app for that”. Does anyone know when this feature will be available to US subscribers, and which carriers will support it?

  9. chgoliz says:

    The problem is pretty serious, when you think about it: modern technology has provided a way for women to be able to communicate with the outside world.  Oh noes!

  10. chgoliz says:

    Some good news: seems like it’s not the formal government doing the banning….more like a religious council sort of thing: “Local officials have begun investigations, saying that such bans cannot be allowed in a healthy society.”

    Fortunately that sort of thing never happens in the US. /s

    “”It always gives us a lot of embarrassment when someone asks who has eloped this time,” said Manuwar Alam, who heads a newly-formed committee tasked with enforcing the ban, referring to queries from neighbouring villages.”

    The embarrassment doesn’t seem to be about why local women would feel so desperate as to have to run away to get married to the person they’ve chosen as an appropriate husband.

  11. MichaelDDD says:

    They ALMOST got it right. Where they fell short is not banning all cell phone use in public by everyone.

  12. Sekino says:

    Simplified: “A fine of 10,000 rupees ($180) if a girl.”

  13. Sean Breakey says:

    For some reason I seem to believe these women weren’t married voluntarily, which they are trying to bandaid over with a cellphone ban.

    Heinous on both accounts.

  14. spacedmonkey says:

    This is not to make light of the savage and barbaric way that muslims often feel compelled to treat women, but in this case, you shouldn’t go thinking its  just a muslim thing.  Hindus in northern in northern India also treat women like absolute shit, and practice all the forms of oppression of women that we would typically associate with muslims.   Also, the central government really doesn’t have much power there. Everything is run by the landlords in what is essentially still a feudal state, with private armies of thugs killing any of the oppressed peons who try to change anything with complete impunity.

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