I pass on to readers this story of how religion can drive people to make the most absurd rules restricting women.
India’s uncomfortable relationship with periods is back in the headlines.
College students living in a hostel in the western Indian state of Gujarat have complained that they were made to strip and show their underwear to female teachers to prove that they were not menstruating.
The 68 young women were pulled out of classrooms and taken to the toilet, where they were asked to individually remove their knickers for inspection.
The incident took place in the city of Bhuj on Tuesday. The young women are undergraduate students at Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute (SSGI), which is run by Swaminarayan sect, a wealthy and conservative Hindu religious group.
They said a hostel official had complained to the college principal on Monday that some of the students were breaking rules menstruating women are supposed to follow.
The idea that menstruating women are ‘impure’ or ‘unclean’ is a widespread and long-standing belief among particular religious groups, leading to the creation of rules limiting their interactions with ‘pure’ and ‘clean’ people. As the article goes on to describe, this school seems to have gone to great lengths to identify menstruating women and create onerous rules for them to follow, along with sanctions for ‘violators’.