Dress diktat with safety pinch

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  • Published 13.08.12

Jeans and sleeveless tops would soon be a strict no-no for Magadh Mahila College students.

The institute, a constituent of Patna University (PU), has decided to ban jeans and sleeveless tops and kurtas on the campus. On Monday, the college administration would formally announce the prohibition at its first-year induction programme.

Magadh Mahila College would be the second institution after Patna Women’s College under PU to issue such a directive. In Patna Women’s College, girls are not allowed to wear jeans and shorts. During admission, students have to fill up a form stating that they would not come to the class sporting jeans and shorts.

Shashi Sharma, a senior teacher of Magadh Mahila College, said: “At the induction, the college will issue the directive prohibiting girls from wearing jeans and sleeveless upper outfits on the campus.”

She said teachers would inspect classrooms from Monday and anyone found sporting jeans and sleeveless tops would be issued a warning. “The new directive will be enforced strictly,” she said.

When asked about the reason behind such an order, she said: “We will issue the directive for the safety of the students. It has been found that many a times, girls wear provoking clothes and invite unnecessary trouble.”

The fashion policing has drawn flak from women organisations, students of different colleges and girls from the institute itself.

A first-year BCom student of Magadh Mahila College, who refused to disclose her identity, said: “We have come to know about the decision. It has no logic. If the college issues the directive, we will have to follow it willingly or unwillingly.”

Students of other colleges, too, feel the dress diktat would not be able to put a check on “provocation”.

“It is ridiculous that even in the 21st century we are differentiating between boys and girls. If wearing tight jeans and sleeveless tops can be banned, why not also forbid tight kurta-pyjamas. Even saris can provoke some people. It’s not the dress that needs to be changed, the mentality of the people should,” said Samridhi, a fifth-year student of Chanakya National Law University.

The curb on western outfits has also invited sharp criticism from organisations working on women’s issues.

Kanchan Bala, a member of Mahila Atyachar Virodhi Morcha, said: “The logic cited that girls are more safe in traditional outfits is irrational. Girls in rural areas are subjugated to sexual violence more. A couple of weeks ago, two girls in Nalanda were gangraped and in that case, the victims were not wearing any western outfit. We have been receiving complaints about violence related to women from rural areas on a regular basis. In most of the cases, there was no reference to girls wearing western outfit that was provoking.”

Echoing Bala, Suman Lal, the president of Prayas Bharti, an organisation working for women and child rights, said: “Women have always been suppressed in a male-dominated society. Banning jeans or sleeveless dresses is a step backward.”

“With the emergence of khap panchayats, violence against women in the name of culture has increased. Posters put up in Ranchi (Jharkhand) recently threatening attacks on girls and women coming out of their houses wearing jeans or without a dupatta was the handiwork of some culture cops. Handwritten posters put up by Jharkhand Mukti Sangh warned the girls against wearing jeans. I wonder in which society are we living?” Lal asked.