Diktat also prohibits them from singing and dancing in wedding ceremonies

While the entire nation is discussing how to make public spaces safer for women, certain “community institutions” have decided to solve the problem by taking women out of the public sphere altogether.

After panchayats in Bihar and Haryana issued diktats against girls using mobile phones, or wearing jeans and t-shirts, the latest to join the fray is a village panchayat in Rajasthan’s Udaipur district.

The Anjuman Muslim Panchayat in Udaipur’s Salumber municipality, about 500 km from here, has banned young girls from using mobile phones and singing and dancing.

Girls will not be allowed to use cellphones as “they are spoiling girls,” the panchayat’s secretary Habi-ur-Rehman was quoted in the local media as saying.

The diktat also prohibits girls from singing and dancing in wedding ceremonies.

Further, the panchayat prohibited men and women from marrying outside their community or against their parents’ wish. If a couple eloped, they would be liable to pay Rs. 51,000 in fines; so would any man or woman who married outside the community, the panchayat held.

The Rajasthan chapter of the All India Milli Council “fully supported” the panchayat. “Why does a girl need a mobile? What does she have to communicate? In the context of widespread cultural invasion of traditional values by way of TV and internet, the panchayat’s decision is absolutely justified,” Abdul Kayyum Akhtar, State general secretary of the All India Milli Council told The Hindu .

“Islam does not allow singing, dancing and intermixing of boys and girls. We run a very successful co-ed school in Jaipur but we take care that girls and boys don’t intermingle. All this talk about freedom to girls doesn’t make any sense. A girl has her own sphere and a boy has his. Why should these two mix?” he asked.

However, women’s organisations termed the panchayat’s order outrageous.

“Neither Islam nor the Koran allows for such outrageous provisions. All these extra-legal institutions lay down rules just for girls while allowing boys to go on molesting them,” said Nishat Hussain, convener of the National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society.

“In fact, a mobile phone is an instrument of safety for a girl. It is unfortunate that the police and administration are too scared to act against such diktats which violate the spirit of our Constitution,” said Ms. Hussain.

Chairperson of the Rajasthan state women’s commission Laad Kumari Jain said religious and political organisations issuing such diktats was a worrisome trend.

Women’s cells of both the BJP and the Congress condemned the diktat.

  • Panchayat also prohibits men and women from marrying outside community

  • “Neither Islam nor the Koran allows for such outrageous provisions”