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In Gujarat college, 68 girls were forced to remove underwear to prove they weren’t menstruating

Some students claimed that this isn’t the first time that they have been harassed and “punished” by the principal and the trustees over menstruation.

New Delhi: Around 68 girls from Shri Sahajanand Girls’ Institute (SSGI) in Gujarat’s Bhuj were allegedly forced to remove their underwear to prove they weren’t menstruating, it is learnt.

According to the Ahmedabad Mirror, this horrifying incident reportedly took place Thursday after the hostel rector complained to the principal that menstruating students were violating “religious norms”.

As per the news report, the 68 girl students were paraded from the college to the hostel restroom, after the warden accused them of venturing into the temple on the college premises and touching fellow students. Inside the washroom, every girl was asked to prove she was not having mensuration

The college is affiliated to the Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kachchh University, which has said they will be taking action on the incident.

The institute advertises itself as an establishment that believes in providing “quality education of global standards on a strong foundation of Indian values and traditions to girl students based on current advances in science, technology and societal demands”. The institute talks about  “emphasis on commitment progress, peace, harmony and national integration”.

The college is owned by the Swaminarayan Dwisatabdi Medical & Charitable Trust and founded in 2012, the institute was moved to a new building in 2014. The institute has several programmes such as BCom, BA, BSc, and has enrolled over 1,500 students.

The institute said that girls during there menstruation, cannot enter a temple or kitchen. There are some reports which say that girls are also barred from touching other students during those days.

Mostly every girl in the institute allegedly harassed by the college administration come from remote villages.

One of the students said, “The hostel administration alleged and insulted us on Wednesday about mensuration. On Thursday, when students were attending lectures, rector Anjaliben called the principal and complained about this. The students were forced to leave our classrooms and were asked to stand in the que outside in the passage. The principal abused and insulted us, questioned which of us were having our periods and two of us were menstruating who was asked to step aside.”

She added they all were taken to the washroom where “female teachers asked us to individually remove our undergarments so they could check if they were menstruating”.

Another student said, “We come from far-flung villages. The college campus houses a school that runs classes from Class 1 to 12. The institute has provided hostel facilities for school students. The college does not have its own hostel. We have to live with the school kids in their hostel.”

Some students claimed that this isn’t the first time that they have been harassed and “punished” by the principal and the trustees over menstruation.

When the students protested, the report said, trustee Pravin Pindoria said that student could take legal action but would have to leave the hostel first. The students also alleged that they were asked to sign a letter claiming that “nothing had happened in college”.

The girls haven’t registered a police complaint so far but alleged that the administration called their parents and “emotionally blackmailed” them into not escalating the matter. The authorities want to maintain that this was a “religious matter” that didn’t warrant being taken to the police.

When asked to speak on the matter, trustee P.H. Hirani, told the Ahmedabad Mirror: “We run a charitable organisation and take the token fee. Our 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 and action will be taken.”

Darshana Dholakiya, the Dean, said, “We will be taking strict action against whoever is responsible for this kind of behaviour.”

A similar incident happened in government-run Kasturba Gandhi Junior Residential School in Khatauli, Uttar Pradesh in April 2017 when a warden forced 70 female students to strip naked so she could check if they were menstruating. This happened after the warden got “angry” when she spotted blood in the toilet and “no-one owned up to” it. Surekha Tomar, the warden, was later terminated from service.

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