August 4th, 2017
Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), Patna removed the word ‘virgin’ from its marital status declaration form on 3 August and issued a new form after a huge uproar surrounding the term ‘virgin’, which is now replaced with ‘unmarried’.
The newly appointed Bihar Health Minister, Mangal Pandey had attempted to redefine the meaning of the word ‘virginity’ by saying that it referred to one’s marital status – meaning ‘kanya’ or ‘kunwari’. He added that given this meaning of the term, there is nothing objectionable about its usage in the form.
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 3, 2017
Pandey had previously told a news channel that it was nothing but an employee’s zodiac sign that had to be mentioned on the form.
The IGIMS marital declaration form had earlier asked employees to specify whether they are a “bechelor”/widower/virgin. However, on Thursday, changes were incorporated in the form that now asked the employees if they are ‘married, widower or unmarried.’
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Manish Mandal, the institute’s medical superintendent said, “Our rules and forms are the same as those of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. We have simply adopted it in letter and spirit…Our rules and forms are the same as those of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. We have simply adopted it in letter and spirit.” This form was in circulation since 1983 i.e. since the inception of the medical institute.
The need of this information arises in the case of death of the employees during service, and the dues have to be settled to the next of kin.
Some IGIMS officials blamed the controversy on poor translation by whoever drafted the form.
The Logical Indian take
The Logical Indian community appreciates the move that has been taken by the medical institute by bringing about a change in form. But what is necessary to be understood here is that similar terminologies have been making rounds in several government organisations’ forms for more than fifty years now. Although the widespread use of the term ‘virgin’, implying the unmarried status of an individual, does not justify the usage, one can also take this as an example of ignorance.
At the same time, it is important to realise condemning and maligning the authorities is not the way out in such cases – our education system and our everyday lives are replete with such examples which are gender insensitive but have become enmeshed in it. It is essential that voices are raised and questions are asked on the set norms, and subsequent changes are being made to counter the internalised and prejudiced mindset.