Indian civil servants told to reveal "detailed menstrual history"

Female civil servants in India are in shock, after being told to fill out a detailed form about their periods and past pregnancies, the BBC reports.

Women civil servants say the questions are a gross invasion of privacy. One told the BBC she was “gobsmacked”.

Annual appraisals and health checks are mandatory in India’s civil service. The ministry was unavailable for comment.

Unsurprisingly, women in the Indian civil service are outraged at this invasion of privacy:

Women officers must write down their “detailed menstrual history and history of LMP [last menstrual period] including date of last confinement [maternity leave],” the form says.

And it seems to be a bit suspect, the way that the form uses “period of confinement”, and the BBC’s explaination of that as maternity leave. It may be the appropriate term in India, but doesn’t that speak of issues to do with women getting pregnant while working, too?

Although this is absolutely a privacy issue, I would suspect it is also a more general issue of discrimination. What use could the information be, except to discriminate against women with children? Would you want your boss to know your menstrual cycle?

Photo by wili_hybrid, shared under a Creative Commons license