University students living in a hostel in Gujarat, a state in the west of the country, complained that they were forced to strip back to show their teachers their underwear, to prove that they were not mens thundering.
68 young people were forced out of the classroom and went to the bathroom, where they were ordered to remove their underwear so that they could be inspected.
The incident took place Tuesday in the city of Bhuj.
The young women were university students of the Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute (SSGI), led by the Swaminarayan sect, a rich and conservative Hindu religious group.
The group said a shelter official had complained to the university principal monday that some of the students were breaking the rules that women who menstruate are supposed to follow.
Under these regulations, women cannot enter a temple or kitchen, or touch other students when they have the period.
During meals, they should sit away from others, wash their own dishes, and, in the classroom, sit in the last row.
One of the students told the BBC that the hostel kept a record where they had to write their name whenever they had the rule, so that the authorities could identify them.
However, for the past two months, no student had written his or her name on the record, which is not surprising when we consider the restrictions they should tolerate if they do.
The young women called the experience “mental torture.” For this reason, the hostel official complained to the university’s principal that menstruating students were entering the kitchen, approaching the temples and mingling with other young women at the hostel.
The students argue that, the next day, they were abused by the hotel official and the principal, before being forced to undress.
The young women described what had happened as “a very painful experience” that left them “traumatized,” which they called “mental torture.”
The father of one of the students said that when he arrived at college, his daughter and other young women approached him and burst into tears.
“They’re in schock, ” he said.
On Thursday, a group of students staged a protest on campus, demanding action against the university authorities who “humiliated” them.
“Menstruation is not a disease,” says this message of protest written on a feminine towel. Pravin Pindoria, a member of the institution’s administrative council, said the incident had been “unfortunate,” adding that an investigation had been ordered and that action would be taken against the culprits.
However, Darsha Doholakia, the university’s vice-chancellor, blamed the students.
Doholakia argued that the young women had violated the rules and added that some had apologized.
However, some of the students told the BBC that they are under pressure from school authorities to dismiss the incident and not talk about what happened.
On Friday, the Gujarat State Women’s Commission ordered an investigation into this “embarrassing exercise” and called on students to “talk fearlessly about grievance.”
Police filed a complaint.
This is not the first time that female students have been humiliated in the name of menstruation.
In a very similar case, 70 students were forced to strip naked three years ago at a school in northern India, after a warden found blood on a bathroom door.
Discrimination against women when they have the rule is common in India, where menstruation has long been taboo, and women with the rule are considered impure.
Women who have the period are not allowed to enter temples. These are often excluded from social and religious events, are denied entry to temples and shrines, and are not allowed into kitchens.
Increasingly, educated women in cities are beginning to challenge these ideas. In recent years, menstruation has been tried to be understood as what it is: a natural function of the female body.
But this mission has been too successful.
In 2018, at an event considered historical, the high court ordered that the doors of the Sabarimala shrine be opened to women of all ages, arguing that keeping women out of the temple in the southern state of Kerala was Discriminatory.
But, a year later, the judges agreed to revise this order after mass protests in the state.
To the surprise of many, among the protesters were a large number of women, an indication of how deeply rooted is the stigma of menstruation.