In a shocking incident which nullifies all efforts to erase the taboo against menstruation, as many as 68 girls of in a hostel of Shri Sahajanand Girls’ Institute in Gujarat’s Bhuj district on Monday (February 10) were allegedly asked to strip by college authorities to find out their menstruating status.
After the incident made news, a five-member team including vice-chancellor (in-charge) Darshna Dholakia and two other senior female professors from Authorities of Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Kachchh University to which the institute is affiliated, visited the institute on Thursday (February 13) to inquire. The team will take action after interacting with the students and the college authorities.
According to a report in Times of India, the incident occurred when authorities found a used sanitary pad in the garden outside the girls’ hostel. Rita Raniga, the institute’s principal summoned the inmates to the common area, gave a lecture on hostel rules in accordance with Swaminarayan sect rules and asked the ‘culprit’ to come forward. Although two girls admitted to have thrown the soiled napkin outside, authorities unconvinced by it, asked all the girls to remove their clothes in front of the female staff.
The warden also accused the girls of entering the temple on the hostel premises and touching fellow students.
The college, managed by the Swaminarayan Dwisatabdi Medical and Charitable Trust, runs in accordance with the norms of the Swaminarayan sect, which mandates that a menstruating girl cannot enter a temple or a kitchen or even touch fellow students. According to hostel rules menstruating girls have to stay in the basement area and use separate belongings until its completion.
Related news | Period pain affects women’s academic performance: Study
The girl students have alleged that even though they complained about the incident to college trustee Pravin Pindoria, he allegedly asked them to forget about it.
“The sect rules have to be followed. We inform the girls about the hostel rules before they take admission. It’s possible that some of the teachers may have enforced the rules a little strictly. I have called a meeting of the administrative committee which will take action against the responsible persons,” TOI quoted Pindoria as saying.
The parents of the girls are meanwhile planning to lodge an FIR on the matter.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has set up an inquiry committee which will meet the students of the college.
The Commission has also sought an explanation from the trustee of Sahjanand Girls Institute College, Pravin Pindora and the principal Rita Raniga for this “shameful exercise”, an NCW statement said.
The NCW has set up an inquiry team, which will meet the girls of the institute and inquire about the incident.
“NCW has also appraised the Kutch University in-charge Vice-Chancellor Darshna Dholakia and the DGP of Gujurat, Shivanand Jha (IPS) to look into the matter thoroughly and report to the Commission at the earliest on their action taken report,” the statement added.