Secunderabad Club's century-old gender bias questioned

Secunderabad Club's century-old gender bias questioned

The 137-year-old practice of the elite Secunderabad Club here that grants full membership rights,  including contesting and voting rights to men but denies the same to women, has been questioned. A practising lawyer and Associate Member ladies (AML) of the Club, Anjana Anukriti Taggarse, has been demanding the club’s management for equal rights for over 1500 AMLs.

The club has been allowing all its 3,500 permanent male members to vote even though the women, entitled to membership in the same way, pay the same admission fee and are subject to same liabilities, cannot vote ,contest elections or make proposals.

However, on July 22, some five years after the lone woman associate member filed a petition in a city court, the club allowed only the daughters (about 80-90 in number) of such permanent members (men) the rights of franchise by amending certain rules. The club, which has a waiting list of over 20 years for new applicants, also restricts widows of members to remarry as it would disentitle them to continue as an associate member. However, men in the esteemed club enjoy the rights of franchise and freedom to marry or remarry without any restrictions.

“This is an issue which deals with all the colonial clubs in different ways. The clubs are full of influential people who also are legislators, judges, politicians and professionals...It violates statutory rights as well as human rights,” Anjana told Deccan Herald.  “My proposals for amendment of these rules submitted to the club on 20 July 2015 for discussion before the annual general body were not accepted as I was a woman, an AML member,” she added.Senior Counsel, of the Lady member, Sriram Subramanyam has said three suits have been filed against the bias of Secunderabad Club in different courts by the AMLs. “The club argued that they have initiated certain remedial measures and the women members must be glad for the changes that have been ushered in,” he said. Anjana further alleged that the AMLs were asked to pay hefty fee for removing the illegalities of gender discrimination. She said the new 2015 proposals seek to re-determine ‘eligibility’ for AML members. Even after amendments, only the 3,500 men will be entitled to contest elections for the next 7 years and thereafter their 90 or so daughters will be eligible to contest, excluding all other women from contesting elections.When contacted, Brig. Shukla, Secretary, Secunderabad Club, said the issue of voting rights for AMLs is purely a private matter. “However, the new elected body will consider the issue and will air its view after couple of months,” he said.

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