By Cake Staff:
Imagine having to fill out a college admission form, with your heart in the throat, while you fret about whether or not you will get through, and you come across questions like these:
“Do you have regular menstruation?” “When was the last date of menstruation?” “Are you pregnant now?” or “Have you had any abortion/miscarriage/c-section?”
These are the exact words on an admission form at Banasthali University, an all-women residential institution in Rajasthan. Considered to be one of the best women’s colleges in Rajasthan, these questions were asked on the admission form covering the 2016-17 academic year. According to this report by the News Laundry, these questions have been part of the admission form for many years.
The official reason behind requiring such information to be furnished by prospective students is to ensure “well-being” and “pre-empt any emergency”. The vice chancellor of the University acknowledged the absurd questioning as being part of the “health assessment section” of the admission form (prepared by the university hospital’s doctors). However, she pressed on its need to ask for a gynaecological profile to maintain medical records of a student, if it’s ever needed.
According to the same report, the inclusion of this section in the admission form is possibly due to an incident in the ‘60s, recounted by a former student, where a newborn baby was found dead in the hostel toilet. While the mother of the child was identified, everyone else speculated whether or not she conceived during her time at the university. The parents blamed the university for not keeping her ‘safe’.
While the line of reasoning provided by the institution may seem justifiable, the line of questioning continues to be baffling keeping in mind that it is an admission form, not a form filled after admission. This can effectively be interpreted as having an impact on deciding whether or not admission is granted to someone who, for instance, does state that she had an abortion or became pregnant out of wedlock. That qualifies as discrimination because the admission process is not based on the student’s merit, but their personal and sexual history.
This is clearly not a matter of ‘concern’ that the University would like to officially proclaim. What this is, is an invasive procedure to ‘check’ whether the students are likely to admit they are the ‘kind’ of girls who would stay away from engaging in ‘immoral’ activities that may ruin the ‘izzat’ of the girl as well as the institution. Moral policing, under the guise of medical concerns, has clearly taken refuge within the admission process of the institution that effectively has the power to decide who becomes eligible based on morals rooted in patriarchy.
Cake tried reaching out to the senior-level management at Banasthali University but received no comment at the time of publishing.