A women’s university in Rajasthan has asked students details of their menstrual cycle and reproductive status in a health-profile form that comes with the admission application, a practice described as disgusting and intrusive by activists.
Banasthali University in Tonk, which is 85 km from Jaipur, is a popular residential facility set up to promote higher education in the desert state, where women are way down the social ladder.
While the “intrusive form” has come under attack from rights activists, vice-chancellorWhile the “intrusive form” has come under attack from rights activists, vice-chancellor Aditya Shastri says the record helps the university provide better healthcare to students. says the record helps the university provide better healthcare to students.
Students refused to talk about the questionnaire. The alumni were divided on the university seeking these details but they all agreed that the form has been there for some time.
Shwetangi Goyal, who completed B Tech (Biotechnology) in 2015, recalled a question that asked if her menstrual cycle was irregular. “But I think it is well within the university management’s rights to ask such questions. They ask them to maintain a health profile of the students,” she said.
Students are also asked about their last menstruation date, visits to a gynaecologist -- if any -- and married women are asked if they are pregnant or have had an abortion.
The form took her by surprise, said Shweta Singh, who graduated from the university earlier this year. “It was the first time that I saw a form in which all these details were required. The first thing that struck me… was why do they want to know these things? All these details are personal,” said Singh, an IT engineer.
The university started maintaining gynaecological profiles of students after a newborn was found dead in one of the hostels, university sources said.
“The health profile form is filled after the students are admitted to the university, and the questions pertain to their health,” vice-chancellor Shastri said. “There are a couple of gynaecological questions too, but they apply only to married students. Unmarried students are not asked any questions regarding their sexual health.”
But, contrary to Shastri’s claims questions about “sexual health” are posed to all students. The health-profile form is part of a 10-page admission application.
Kavita Srivastava, a member of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, a rights body, said the form violated privacy. “It is an utterly disgusting practice. It impinges on the privacy of female students, and the university has absolutely no right to ask such questions,” she said.
“Details of a person’s body cannot be made public. Such information can only be shared with one’s doctor.” The questions should be withdrawn immediately, Srivastava said.
The health-profile form
For all students
1) Do you have regular menstruation?
2) When did your menstruation last occur?
3) Have you consulted a doctor for any gynaecological problem?
For married women
1) Are you pregnant now?
2) What was the date of your last delivery?
3) Have you ever had an abortion, miscarriage or caesarian section?