Jeans on campus? Not in Kanpur - 'Safety' dress code for girls

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT IN LUCKNOW
  • Published 13.06.09
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Girls in Kanpur can’t wear jeans or skirts to college because the authorities think it invites harassment.

Lady teachers can’t wear sleeveless blouses, though there is nothing official about it.

“We have issued a notice restricting girls from wearing western outfits like jeans, skirts and tight tops on the campus as these dresses may provoke teasing,” said Meeta Jamal, the principal of Dayanand Girls’ Degree College.

The dress code has been clamped in all the city’s four government girls’ colleges, whose principals said the decision was taken after extensive discussions because harassment at the college gates had become a regular feature.

“Girls wearing jeans mostly become soft targets and we receive complaints from the students and their parents who expect us to take action,” said a senior teacher of Acharya Narendra Dev College.

Jamal would not comment on the unofficial dress code for teachers, but only said: “The lady teachers are models for the girl students. They will obviously co-operate with the management.”

Teachers of the four women’s colleges where the dress code has been clamped complained that they had been asked not to wear sleeveless blouses and short tops.

“This is a clear infringement of our rights,” said a Dayanand teacher who did not want to be named.

But the principal said: “We have over 8,000 students and we can’t overlook their safety and security.” The dress code, Jamal added, would “ensure discipline”.

The Kanpur University vice-chancellor welcomed the restrictions. “Any step taken by the colleges to check eve-teasing should be encouraged,” said H.K. Sehgal, who did not clarify whether he was referring to the curbs on teachers.

Sources said police had been trying to impress upon the colleges that the girls’ clothes were primarily responsible for the increasing incidents of harassment.

Late last month, the police imposed the National Security Act on two youths accused of harassment to send a message to the rest, but it failed to make much impact. Last week, two girls were again targeted.

The missionaries-run co-educational Christchurch College, however, doesn’t blame jeans or skirts for the harassment.

A.K. Verma, a reader of political science in the college, said: “I don’t know how a girl wearing salwar-kameez can be immune to harassment. The dress code is a bad decision for a good cause.”

Deputy inspector-general of police, Kanpur range, Hariram Sharma did not comment on the dress code.

“We want to handle it (teasing) with strong will power. We slapped the NSA on the tease in May when they assaulted two girls and dared passersby to stop them,” he said.