CM condemns the incident; five-member SIT team collects CCTV footage from institute, takes statements of college students

Two days after the entire country erupted over the news of 68 girls in a Bhuj college being forced to undergo a ‘strip test’ to prove they were not menstruating, the outrage over the incident continues to gather strength. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Saturday condemned the incident and assured that his government will take strict action against the culprits.

“An FIR has already been lodged. It was indecent and illegal on part of the teachers to outrage the modesty of the daughters in this manner. The government has taken serious note of the incident, and ordered the Home and Education departments to take strict action in this case,” said the chief minister, who was in Ahmedabad for an event on Saturday morning.

Soon after, a five-member Special Investigation Team was formed under Bhuj DySP J N Panchal to probe the matter.

Bhuj SP Saurabh Tolabiya told Mirror, “The other members are Inspector (Joint Interrogation) P H Lagdhirka, Inspector (A-Division) R N Khat, Circle Inspector S B Vasava and PSI Archana Raval. They collected CCTV footage from the institute and took statements of some of the students. The team will talk to more students in the coming days.”

Sixty-eight girl students of Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute (SSGI) in Bhuj were allegedly forced to remove their undergarments to prove that they were not menstruating. The girls, who lived in the college hostel, were meted out this humiliating treatment on February 11. The incident came to light on Thursday after parents of one of the victims got to know of the ordeal.

Mirror’s reports on ‘68 girls in Bhuj college forced to remove undies, prove they weren’t bleeding’ (Feb 14). And the exclusive interview with the courageous hosteller (In your menses? Stay locked up in basement; Feb 15) brought the incident to the attention of commoners and celebrities alike.

Reacting to the incident, Renuka Shahane tweeted “Out Constitution gives us equal rights but our menstruation doesn’t! #KutchUniversity #Shame.”

What happened is a violation of women’s rights, asserted Aditi Gupta, the creative brains behind ‘Menstrupedia Comic’ — an illustrated guide to menstruation for girls and women. “Girls are harassed and sexually violated in the name of tradition. These “traditions” are prevalent because of lack of awareness. People think menstruation is dirty. Policy intervention is also needed to bring change as traditions are used conveniently to suppress women. This incident is condemnable and colleges that follow such rules have to be scrutinised and banned.”

Psychologist Purnima Gupta said, “It is clear case of discrimination against girls. Menstruation is a very private thing. Such behaviour can have serious consequences. A girl humiliated in this manner may hurt herself, or be afraid to go out in public. If the family is not supportive, they might stop the girl from studying further. Her entire identity could come under threat.”

Reacting against the ‘traumatic’ incident, Priya Thacker, a second year MBA student of Institute of Management at Nirma University, said, “I stayed in Bhuj for 21 years and always thought it was a small but modern town. Menstruation is a highly personal experience. The method adopted to check the girls will have a long-lasting psychological effect on them.

Aditya Gor, a final year student at GNLU said, “This incident is a regressive and painful incident, especially since it occurred at a place where education is imparted. This is outright infringement on the provisions of law and it is against human rights. It is a religion-based institute but it should uphold the dignity of women.”