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Indian village bans single girls from mobile use

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Women in the Indian region of Lank will need to find a husband before a mobile phone, as single women have been banned from using mobiles for fear they'll elope.

The ruling, by the village council, isn't backed by Indian law, but in rural India that's less important as the panchayats (elected elders) of the village have effective control. They are worried that unmarried women are using mobile phones to arrange clandestine meetings that lead to eloping with members of their own clan.

Unmarried blokes will be allowed to use their mobile phones, but even they'll have to be supervised to ensure they're not setting up a midnight flit. The Guardian relays the Associated Press figures that the ban already covers 50,000 people, with neighbouring panchayats considering similar measures.

Just in the last month, the Guardian reports, 34 couples from the region eloped, with eight of those elopements resulting in honour killings three of which included the beheading of the girls by family members.

Such "honour killings" are against the law, and the police often intervene to prevent them happening, though clearly not often enough.

Mobile phone use is exploding in India, and just as in the west it's brought privacy as much as it's brought mobility. The phone offers young people a bedroom-to-bedroom connection, and those who would control that communication are increasingly being bypassed. ®

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