A member of Uttar Pradesh Women’s Commission stirred a fresh controversy by suggesting that girls should not have access to mobile phones as it could lead to rapes and other women-related crimes and also appealed to parents that they should monitor the phones of their daughters.
During a public hearing of complaints at `Mahila Jansunwai' programme in Aligarh on Wednesday, replying to a querry on sharp rise in cases of rape, UPWC member Meena Kumari said, "There is a lot of strictness but such cases are not stopping. Society will have to oversee this along with us. Will have to see our girls, as to where they are going, which boys they are meeting, and their mobiles. I tell everyone that girls keep talking on mobile and the matter reaches a point where they elope to marry. I urge the parents, especially the mothers, to monitor their daughters as their carelessness could lead to crimes against women."
After a video of Meeena Kumari’s queer conjecture and suggestions became viral on the internet, the UP Women's Commission distanced itself from the controversial statement.
Terming Kumari's advice of depriving girls of mobile phones as wrong, UPWC vice-president, Anju Chaudhary said that it was not a solution to sexual violence against women. "Instead of saying that we should not give mobile phones to girls, we should be teaching them not to chat with strangers and educate them on the safe use of phones," she said.
Finding that her statements had stirred a controversy, Kumari later tried to clarify her stand saying that girls from villages did not know how to use phones the right way. She said girls use phones to make male friends and then run away and smartphones are also being used to watch inappropriate content. On being quizzed as to how mobile phones were linked to rapes, the UPWC member said, "On a daily basis, I hear complaints of at least 20 women and 5-6 cases related to friendships on phones and its fallouts. In some cases, girls were lured and then sexually abused."