68 undergraduate hostellers of Shri Sahjanand Girls’ Institute (SSGI) in Bhuj were paraded through the college into the restroom and forced to individually remove their undergarments to prove that they were not menstruating, a report in Ahemdabad Mirror said.
This shocking incident took place on Wednesday in the educational institute that proclaims its mission to be “self-development and empowerment of girls through modern, scientific, and value-based education”.
This act of humiliation took place after the hostel warden complained to the principal that some of the inmates had been violating their religious norms specifically the menstruating girl students.
According to the institute's norms, menstruating girls are prohibited from entering the temple and kitchen. They are not even allowed to touch other students.
No police complaint has been registered yet but in charge vice-chancellor, Dr Darshana Dholakiya of Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kutch University (KSKVKU) has reportedly formed a fact-finding committee to investigate the matter.
“We will take strict action against whoever is responsible for this kind of behaviour,” she told Ahemdabad Mirror.
However, the hostel administration reportedly complained to principal Rita Raninga that some girls who were having their periods not just mingled with other hostel inmates, but also entered the kitchen and ventured near the temple on the premises.
One of the students who stay at the hostel as she hails from a remote area said,“The hostel administration levelled this allegation and insulted us on Wednesday. On Thursday, when we were attending lectures, rector Anjaliben called the principal and complained about this. We were forced to leave our classrooms and queue up outside in the passage. The principal abused and insulted us, asking which of us were having our periods. Two of us who were menstruating stepped aside.
Despite this, we were all taken to the washroom. There, the female teachers asked us to individually remove our undergarments so that they could check if we were menstruating.”
Ahemdabad Mirror quoted another 19-year-old undergraduate student who faced the same humiliation saying, “We come from far-flung villages. The college campus houses a school that runs classes from Class 1to 12. They provide hostel facilities for school students. The college does not have its own hostel. We live with the school kids in their hostel.”
“The principal, hostel rector and the trustees harass us regularly over the issue of menstruation. We are punished for having periods. This happens even if we follow their religious rules. They made us remove our undergarments because they thought some of us were lying about not having periods, and mingling with the others against rules. But the humiliation meted out to us on Thursday was the last straw. When we protested against this, trustee Pravin Pindoria told us that we could take legal action if we wanted but we would have to first leave the hostel. He also forced the students to sign a letter saying nothing happened in college. But enough is enough,” the student added.
Answering to why girls had not filed a police complaint, another college student told Ahemdabad Mirror that the college administration called their parents and emotionally blackmailed them saying that this was a religious matter and should not be taken to the cops.
The education Institution was set up in 2012 by followers of Swaminarayan Mandir in Bhuj (Nar Narayan Dev Gadi). College was moved into a new building on the premises of Shree Swaminarayan Kanya temple in 2014. The Institute which offers BCom, BA and BSc courses has about 1,500 students of which 68, who come from remote villages, stay in the hostel on campus, Ahemdabad Mirror reported.
Pravin Pindoria, Executive Council member of KSKVKU university and college trustee refused to comment on the issue.
Ahemdabad Mirror quoted another SSGI trustee P H Hiranias as saying, “We run a charitable organisation and take a token fee. As the institute has a temple on campus, the girls have been instructed to follow the sect’s rules. However, what happened to the students is unfair. Action will be taken.”
Darshana Dholakia, Dean, Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute told news agency ANI that the matter is related to the hostel, it has nothing to do with University/College. Everything happened with girls' permission, nobody was forced for it. Nobody touched them. Still, an inquiry team has been formed to look into the matter.
National Commission for Women has taken suo-moto cognizance in the matter and has set-up an inquiry team to visit and speak with the students of SSGI.