College students living in a hostel in the Indian state of Gujarat have complained of being forced to strip and show their underwear to female teachers to prove that they were not menstruating.
The 68 undergraduates at Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute were pulled out of their classrooms and taken to the toilet and told to remove their underwear for inspection. The institution is run by Swaminarayan sect, a wealthy and conservative Hindu religious group.
According to the girls, the inspection came after a hostel official complained to the principal about some students breaking rules. It is said that women are barred from entering the temple and the kitchen and are not allowed to touch other students during their periods.
They are also required to sit away from others, clean their own dishes, and sit on the last bench in the classroom. The girls are also expected to enter their names in a register which helps authorities to identify them. No one, however, entered their name in the register for the past two months.
This led to the inspection in the washroom on Monday which the girls described as a “very painful experience” that had left them “traumatized” and amounted to “mental torture”.
Protests followed on Thursday demanding action against the college officials who had humiliated them. The Gujarat Women’s Commission has since ordered an investigation into the matter and asked students to come forward and speak without fear about their grievances.
According to the BBC, menstruation periods are considered a taboo in India and menstruating women are considered impure.