Most rich Indian families own a LED TV, refrigerator, washing machine and all the household appliances necessarily required for a family, with the head of the family having the latest model smartphone, but reluctant to buy a one to their daughters.
The parents fear that the freedom that comes with them could lead their daughters astray.
“They start talking and the next thing you will have a love marriage or she will run away with a boy,” said a parent, who has forbidden his girls from having cellphones.
He has provided the girls with a basic model of the cellphone only to make the necessary calls without any internet connection.
Such attitude of Indian parents have created a black out to most Indian girls being brought up in the traditional culture. Being barred by their husbands and fathers from taking the technological leap they remain technically backward when compared to women of their age group from the West.
In India, 114 million more men have cellphones than women. That represents more than half the total world-wide gap of around 200 million between men and women who possess phones, according to GSMA, an international cellphone-industry group.
Technological wizards often see cellphone and internet as a means to drive away social disparity and gender inequality. But in developing countries like India, where technology is advancing drastically, the new developments are aggravating the already existing gender gap.
India is being like the Gulf where the women are pulled backwards from mainstream communication, education and political participation which eventually makes it difficult for them to find work.
In India, millions of people use their smartphones to communicate, work, find work, do bank transactions, purchase online, interact with others and the government, study and much more. Offline modes have become tedious, which require movements, cost of travelling, waiting in queue for your turn, filling in forms mechanically.
Mobile phones, especially smartphones, are going to be the biggest challenge to achieving gender equityOsama Manzar, founder of the nonprofit Digital Empowerment Foundation
Denying smartphone to women means lose of opportunity for women and the economy. India has the most biased sex ratio in the world, with men outnumbering the number of women due to the increase in the number of abortions, female infanticides, and abandoning if the born baby is a girl,
Even now majority families in most states of India, invest their money and resources on their sons.
In parts of Mehsana in Gujarat, village councils, have written down strict norms, barring unmarried women from possessing cellphones, though Prime Minister Narendra Modi is promoting his Digital India drive worldwide. Even in the fast-forwarding cities of the world’s largest democracy, men prevent women in their families from getting fancy phones.
Why do girls need cell phone? Internet is a waste of time and money for a middle-class community like us. Girls should better utilise their time for study and other worksSarpnach Devshi Vankar, Suraj village, Gujarat
Fathers and husbands often criticize mobile phones for the exploring sexual dissipation it provides and tag women with a smartphone to be sexually immoral. They still have the notion that money spend over their sons have returns rather than on girls who eventually get married off to the households of another family.
Women if found breaking the traditional, conservative norms, will be subjected to violence. In Pakistan, a 26-year-old social media celebrity, model, feminist activist and actress, Fauzia Azeem, popularly known as Qandeel Baloch was strangled in July by her brother because her posts on Facebook, deemed too saucy for the conventional Pakistani traditions, and claiming she had brought dishonor to the family.
In India, only 28% of females have cellphones when compared with 43% of men, pointing to one of the largest gender gaps in the world, according to GSMA.
Around 30% of internet users in the country are female, according to estimates by the Internet and Mobile Association of India. A government survey in 2014 reported that that only around 9% of females knew how to use the internet for its basic purpose of sending a mail or doing a search, when compared with more than 16% of males surveyed.
In Delhi, where there are cell towers in every nook and corner, high poster advertisements of smartphones at highways, young women know they are missing out a space in the technological leap.