Denying a hotel room to single women is both socially and economically unsound
Women across the world are increasingly opting to stay single and travel independently. The single woman traveller is a big segment of the hospitality industry. For that reason, if nothing else, hotels should do away with these discriminatory policies.editorials Updated: Jun 26, 2017 16:01 IST
There is hardly a hotel anywhere in the world which does not tell the customer that rights of admission are reserved. But, even so, the policy followed by a Hyderabad hotel which states that locals, single ladies and unmarried couples are not allowed is a bit of stretch, not to mention misogynistic. This came to light when a single woman traveller was denied a pre-booked room by the hotel. The hotel seemed to think that turning the woman out on to the street was the better option than giving her a room. And in a nasty twist to the whole tale, it would appear that this policy was driven by the police asking the administration to not provide rooms to single women as the area was unsafe. This is astounding given that it is the duty of the police to make sure that all areas are safe and that women are not restricted on this count.
This, however, is not the first time that hotels have discriminated on what can only be called moral grounds. In many hotels, it is not unknown for couple who are not married, or perceived to be not on grounds of different surnames, to be denied rooms. Such discriminatory policies are never openly stated but are practised nevertheless. The bias against single women extends far beyond hotels. In many attacks on women, the response of both the police and society is to question why she was out alone at night the suggestion being that women should always be accompanied by a man or not go out at night. Single women also face unnecessary harassment and discrimination when trying to find accommodation, the assumption being that a single woman will encourage male visitors to come as though this were a crime.
Women across the world are increasingly opting to stay single, travel independently and carve out their own space both in the personal and public sphere. This is a choice not a deviation. In India, still a largely patriarchal society, a single woman beyond a certain age is considered someone left on the shelf, an object of contempt or pity. This goes against an aspirational generation of Indians who want to engage with the world on their own terms. The single woman traveller is a big segment of the hospitality industry. For that reason, if nothing else, hotels should do away with these discriminatory policies. And the police should do its job instead of making things worse for women than they already are.