Women's boxing at the college-level is facing an existential crisis after a controversial order made it compulsory for contestants to submit to a pregnancy test.
The rule, issued on December 10 by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), has sparked outrage with students and women's organisations holding a protest in Aligarh on Saturday. Many sportswomen say they are now being asked by their kin to leave the sport.
AIU is an umbrella organisation with almost all varsities of the country as its members and the order, implemented for the first time at Agra's Dr BR Ambedkar University's inter-college boxing championship, will be in effect for the National University Games 2013-14 to be held at the Banaras Hindu University in January, 2014.
"I have participated in the national championship twice but this is the first time that such a test has been sought. Not only are we uncomfortable with it but our families also are now pressurising us to leave the sport," said Geeta Sharma, a student of DS College, one of the colleges under BR Ambedkar University.
Officials, however, defended the order, saying it is on the lines of international sporting regulations.
"Pregnancy tests have been made compulsory on the direction of the World Anti Doping Agency," said Ajay Singh, sports in-charge of DS College.
Officials say that the rule would deal a body blow to women's boxing.
"Few women join boxing. If such rules are framed, none will join at all. AIU must reconsider this rule," said Shahnawaz Khan, sports in-charge of another varsity institute, SV College.
Mazher-ul-Qamar, president of Zila Olympic Sangh said: "It is an indecent joke on sportswomen. We will lodge a protest with AIU. The rules in foreign countries are framed according to their culture. They should be based on our culture in our country."
Shakuntla Bharti, the mayor of Aligarh, said the order was against the dignity of women.