“No Single Woman” Policy Limits Our Mobility and Questions Our Agency
As a highly independent unmarried woman, I am extremely shocked at the recent decision by pub and club owners on MG Road in Gurugram to ban entry of single women into their premises.
The reason for this discriminatory decision was a police raid on July 3 to check alleged solicitation and immoral trafficking. As a result, the pub and club owners took the easy way out and came up with a “no single woman” policy. In fact, despite knowing and acknowledging that their business will suffer, the owners are insisting on proof of marriage when a couple walks in.
I am super mad about this decision.
It is not just discriminatory but a violation of my constitutional rights which form the basis of my human rights. As a citizen of India, I am guaranteed the right to equality. This is explicitly explained in Articles 14 and 15.
Article 14: Equality Before Law
The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Article 15: Social Equality and Equal Access to Public Areas
- The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
- No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to— access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment
As a woman who travels extensively in India and abroad, for work and leisure, I do not take kindly to this requirement of having to always have a man accompany me. I am perfectly capable of living a full life, having fun and enjoying it without having to have a man by my side. Further to carry proof of marriage, is like the Nazis insisting Jews wear the armband. I am neither defined by relationship to my father, brother or husband and am very qualified to be my own person.
To carry proof of marriage, is like the Nazis insisting Jews wear the armband. I am neither defined by relationship to my father, brother or husband and am very qualified to be my own person.
Having such a regressive decision which is against the constitution, is reflective of the current situation where women and girls continue to be vulnerable to attacks because of their gender. This is manifested in many ways – the atrocious sex ratio that has resulted in India having over 37 million more men than women, series of gang-rapes of little girls all over the country and the Thomas Reuters perception survey that recently named India as the most dangerous in the world.
This continued devaluation of women and girls in India affects our quality of life and restricts our ability to achieve our potential. Under the guise of “safety”, our mobility is limited, and our agency is questioned. It reinforces the patriarchal view that women and girls should not be in a public space on their own and a false moralistic view that when they are in a public space, they must be accompanied by their husband or father or son.
If two consenting adults are in a public space, no one — neither the State nor the business owner — has the right to discriminate against them.
This pub’s new policy reminds me of a time a few years ago in Mumbai, when the police were constantly raiding hotels for liaisons between non-married couples. Most people they found in those incidents claimed the police intimidated and humiliated them. If two consenting adults are in a public space, no one — neither the State nor the business owner — has the right to discriminate against them. As for prostitution, the laws are quite vague about it. I would suggest first fixing the law and punishing the buyer and perpetrator rather than using sex work as an excuse to control, intimidate and regulate the movements of all women – single, married, divorced or otherwise.
Our rights are sacred and if we do not protest now, we will slowly find our rights further being eroded.
Views expressed are the author’s own.
Picture Credit: India.com