Ahmedabad: A village panchayat in Gujarat's Mehsana district has slapped a ban on minor girls using or owning mobile phones, saying the gadget distracts them from studies and makes them vulnerable to harassment from anti-social elements.
The ban was imposed in Suraj village in Kadi taluka. Violators will have to pay a fine of Rs.2,100 each.
A girl under the age of 18 is allowed to use the mobile phones of her parents, but inside the house, and under supervision of her parents.
She is, however, not allowed to carry and flaunt the phone around the village.
According to sarpanch (headman) Devshi Vankar, the decision was taken unanimously by the panchayat as the majority of villagers felt that mobile phones were creating problems for girls and their parents.
"Everyone knows what happens in today's world due to mobile phones. This is kalyug. This is an era where people secretly talk with each other. We have to save girls from those who acquire their numbers and harass them or try to lure them," Vankar said.
The panchayat members were also of the opinion that the phones might be misused by the teenaged girls to flirt and elope from their homes, Vankar told reporters in Mehsana.
"All villagers agreed to ban mobile phones for school girls who are under 18. Members of all the communities -- Dalit, Patel, Thakor or Rabari -- agreed to it," he said.
The ban is not applicable on college going girls and women.
According to Vankar "College girls are grown up enough to understand what is good for them and what is bad."
He said girls over 18 need mobile phones to stay in touch with their parents and village elders since they have to travel to nearby cities in the absence of institutions of higher learning in their villages.