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India: In Sehruwa village women do not vote

Publication Date: 
January 12, 2012

In Sehruwa - a village in India's Uttar Pradesh state, women have never exercised one of their most important constitutional rights: vote  Ironically, Sehruwa is only 144 km away from Lucknow - the state capital where Mayawati - the state's (woman) chief minister resides.


The main reason behind this practice is that none of the women in the village has a Voter ID Card. To get the ID, one has to get photographed. In Sehruwa, 70% people belong to the Muslim Pathan community (the rest are Dalit- just like Mayawati herself is). The men of the community won't allow their women to remove their veils (violates the 'tradition', they say) which makes it impossible to get a photo taken.


Voting by women, in fact, has been forbidden in Sehruwa since 1947 - the year India gained its independence. It is said that soon after independence, men of the village got together and decided that women need not vote - which has been in practice even today.


By size, Sehruwa isn't very big. Home to 193 families, it has a population of 1278 people, of them  576 are women. 324 of these women (this is the number of women above 18) are illiterate.  None of the women work outside their homes, even in the rural employment schemes, its only the men who take part.


The state of Uttar Pradesh is going into poll next month (February 8), when people of the state will vote to elect the members of  the 403- seat assembly.