'Blatantly misogynist' English exam paper sparks outcry in India

‘Blatantly misogynist’ English exam paper that says women ‘not obeying their husbands’ are the main reason for undisciplined children and family problems sparks outcry in India

  • English exam included a passage which said women gaining independence in India is the ‘main reason for wide variety of social and family problems’
  • Backlash over passage has prompted Indian exam board to withdraw passage 
  • Opposition Sonia Gandhi labelled the exam passage as ‘blatantly misogynist’

An English exam paper has been slammed as ‘blatantly misogynist’ and sparked public outcry in India after a passage included ‘atrocious’ statements that said women not ‘obeying’ their husbands are the main reason children are undisciplined. 

The national English language and literature exam included a ‘shockingly regressive’ passage which explicitly said that women gaining independence in India is the ‘main reason for a wide variety of social and family problems’. 

The backlash over the passage has prompted the Indian exam board to withdraw the passage from the national English language and literature exam, which was taken by students aged between 14 and 15 years old on Saturday. 

All of the students have been awarded full marks for the comprehension section of the exam following the outcry, with opposition politician Sonia Gandhi to labelling the passage as ‘blatantly misogynist’. 

All of the students have been awarded full marks for the comprehension section of the exam following the outcry, with opposition politician Sonia Gandhi (pictured) to labelling the passage as ‘blatantly misogynist’

‘Women gaining independence in India is the main reason for a wide variety of social and family problems.’ 

‘Wives stopped obeying their husbands and that is the main reason children and servants are undisciplined.’

‘It was only by accepting her husband’s way that a mother could gain obedience over the younger ones.’  

‘The emancipation of the wife destroyed the parent’s authority over the children.’ 

‘In bringing the man down from his pedestal, the wife and mother deprived herself, in fact, of the means of discipline’.  

The offending passage included statements such as ‘wives stopped obeying their husbands and that is the main reason children and servants are undisciplined’ and ‘it was only by accepting her husband’s way that a mother could gain obedience over the younger ones’.    

The passage also said ‘the emancipation of the wife destroyed the parent’s authority over the children’ and ‘in bringing the man down from his pedestal, the wife and mother deprived herself, in fact, of the means of discipline’.  

A public outcry from children, parents and teachers prompted Sonia Gandhi, the president of the opposition Congress party, to raise the issue in the country’s parliament on Monday. 

Gandhi read out the passage, which she described as ‘shockingly regressive’, to parliament and said it included ‘atrocious statements’. 

‘The entire passage is riddled with such condemnable ideas and the questions that follow are equally as nonsensical,’ Gandhi told Parliament. 

She added: ‘I add my voice to the concerns of students, parents, teachers and educationists, and I raise strong objection to such blatantly misogynistic material finding its way into an important examination conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education’. 

‘It reflects extremely poorly on the standards of education and testing. And it goes against all norms and principles of a progressive and empowered society.’

Gandhi also urged the ministry of education and the Central Board of Secondary Board, India’s exam board, to immediately withdraw the passage and conduct a review into the ‘egregious lapse and ensure that this is never repeated again’.    

‘I also urge that the ministry of education must conduct a review on gender sensitivity standards of the curriculum and testing,’ Gandhi added. 

The national English language and literature exam included a ‘shockingly regressive’ passage which explicitly said that women gaining independence in India is the ‘main reason for a wide variety of social and family problems’ (file image of students in India)

Gandhi’s son and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi termed the passage ‘downright disgusting’ in a tweet and said such moves are ‘typical RSS-BJP ploys to crush the morale and future of the youth’. 

Following the outcry, the Central Board of Secondary Education said it was withdrawing the passage from the exam moments after Gandhi’s speech, reports NDTV.      

‘The matter was referred to a committee of subject experts. As per their recommendations, it’s been decided to drop the passage,’ the board said, adding that students will be given full parks for the passage.  

The number of girls attending schools in India is rising, but their literacy rate is still behind compared to boys.   

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