The Telangana government has reportedly been discouraging married women from applying to social welfare residential women's degree colleges in the state. It is said that only unmarried women are eligible to pursue education in these colleges.
The rule, which has been in place since 2016, has 75 percent seats for SCs and 25 percent for STs/BCs and general category.
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Instead of encouraging married women to complete their education, the Telengana government discourages them from studying further saying that unmarried women will be distracted if husbands of married women visit the colleges.
"The intention is to ensure that other girls in the residential degree colleges do not get distracted, because there is every possibility of husbands visiting their wives weekly once or in a fortnight. We do not want any kind of distraction among students," Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS) content manager B Venkat Raju told TOI.
According to an official in the government, Society secretary, Dr R S Praveen Kumar, the purpose of the residential colleges is to break the cycle of child marriages. However, it is withholding educational opportunities to married women who want to complete their education.
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"We don't encourage married women, but at the same time won't prevent them if they approach us for admission. Our intention is neither to deny nor hurt any one's feelings," he added.
There are 23 residential degree colleges for women in the state with a capacity intake of 280 students each year. There are around 4,000 women who study living in hostels. Their education, food and lodging is free of cost.
While the intention to break the cycle of child marriage is commendable, it is being undertaken at a cost to women who need state-sponsored education.
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Activists have taken up the cause and want the notification withdrawn.
"How can an institution of the state government itself block the education of married women when child marriages are so rampant in both urban and rural areas of Telangana?" asked V Sandhya of the Progressive Organisation of Women.