February 27th, 2016
Image Source: aljazeera
Unmarried women and girls under the age of 18 have been banned from using mobile phones in several villages of the Mehsana and Banaskantha districts in Gujarat state. Many more villages are joining the campaign. According to the panchayat of Suraj village, located in Kadi taluka of Mehsana, the decision to prohibit school girls from owning and using mobile phones will keep them away from the dangers of ‘Kalyug’. A fine of Rs.2100 will be slapped on any minor girls found using or carrying mobiles in the village. They can only use these gadgets at home under the strict supervision of their parents. The village Sarpanch, Devshi Vankar, said that the decision was a result of a majority of villagers who felt that mobiles were a nuisance for young girls and their parents.
The villagers see mobile phones as one of the biggest reasons for infatuated teenagers to elope from their homes. In fact, this particular decision of the Panchayat was endorsed by all communities- who hope to prevent boys from trying to establish contact with young girls. Fortunately, college going girls who have to travel to nearby cities have been spared from this ban as they need mobile phones to keep in touch with their families. According to Vankar, “College girls are mature enough to differentiate between good and bad.”
He added that “Everyone knows what happens in today’s world due to mobile phones. This is Kalyug. This is the era of Whatsapp, where people secretly talk with each other. We have to save girls from those who acquire their number and harass them or try to lure these innocent girls”.
The Logical Take
While parental supervision is a requisite for children, the outright ban on usage of mobile phones which has its own benefits is questionable. Besides, in the event of any regulations or bans why the boys weren’t considered is a question that remains to be answered. The harsh laws and the differential treatment both deserves condemnation.
But the answer to protecting minors from the perils of internet is not banning them from its benefits. Quite a lot of time, it is banning of anything which increases its usage in secrecy which could be more harmful and the ill effects of internet and mobile devices could go unchecked and irreversible. Guiding and shielding them in the right way would be a better path to adopt.