A predominantly Muslim village in Uttar Pradesh, India, has announced that women seen talking on a mobile phone in public will be fined INR21,000 (approximately USD 325).
The khap panchayat, or self-proclaimed community court, has labeled the act a “crime”, according to this NDTV article.
A member of the Panchayat, Ghaffar Khan, offers justification that many would describe as outrageous. “Most of the women that we have here are uneducated. Why would they need a phone?”
He added, “We haven’t really banned women from using cellphones. But whatever is done, should be done according to our tradition.”
According to the police, people at this village in Mathura believe such a ban will restrict the girls’ interaction with men. The use of mobile phones by girls has been blamed for affairs and elopements.
Results from a small study we conducted in Delhi hint at a gender gap in urban areas as well. But the more clear parallel is Myanmar, where we found a 29 percent gender gap in mobile ownership.
Clearly, there is much work to be done.