Women banned from using mobile phones -

A village in India has decided that the quality of life will be made much better for them if they ban women from using mobile phones.

Men in the village claim that mobile phones "pollute the social atmosphere" by encouraging women to elope with lovers.

Of course, this is only a problem for women as men never use their phones to elope with lovers. We guess that the women can only be eloping with other women.

The order was issued by the village council in Suderbari, in the Kishanganj district of impoverished Bihar state, after a formal meeting on Sunday.

The village council had met to see if it could sort out the problem of the "the breakdown of the institution of marriage". After a long and spirited debate, the men of the village came to the conclusion that marriages could not be breaking up because the men were backward, sexist control freaks. Instead they decided it must be because women had been getting their paws on mobile phones.

The phones apparently promote premarital and extramarital affairs and were destroying the great institution of marriage, the council said. Obviously this was not written on any packaging for phones we have seen.

The council has ruled that unmarried women caught using a mobile phone should be fined $175 while married women should be fined $35.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, women may use a phone in the presence of a male family member.

Manuwar Alam, the president of the social advisory committee, said that the council was extremely worried after six girls and women had eloped in the past year.

He said that everyone had to hide their faces out of shame. Such cases were earning "a very bad name for all of us".

What actually was happening was that education in the village had marginally improved and there was more mobility and access to television. This has lead many children to start to question the traditional ethic that their fathers, husbands and male village leaders were gods because of their age and gender.

A woman's lot in the area is not that great and there are not many of them because the region is fond of bumping off baby girls.

Then there is the practice of honour killings, of couples and particularly of women, who transgress traditional customs and discrimination.

To make matters worse, the concept that men were supposed to be in charge to protect women has fallen by the wayside.

Rapes and violence against women in the region has increased dramatically.

Village chiefs and local politicians have variously blamed mobile phones, the ingredients in the increasingly popular chow mein, and, of course, the victims. One suggested lowering the age of marriage as a solution.

Human rights groups said that mobile phones were important for women's security, particularly in rural areas.