Students talk about several dress code restrictions in several Bachelor of Science (B. Sc) courses for female students in Kirori Mal College.
In 2019, it might come as a surprise that several colleges all around India still introduce and promote dress code restrictions for female students. The reasons suggested by the various administrations for these restrictions might vary, but they still show the orthodox mentality prevalent in many higher education institutions throughout India. The idea of higher education comes with a certain sense of liberty. These practices will only destroy that sense of liberty and make these institutions into regressive and oppressive campuses.
A recent example is St Francis College for Women in Hyderabad, who implemented the banning of shorts, sleeveless and similar dresses on campus as of 1st August, 2019. It seems that Kirori Mal College, which is a part of Delhi University, might also be facing similar issues. Kirori Mal does not have a stated dress code for any student in its rules and regulations. However, students from B. Sc (Honours) allege that certain teachers still implement dress codes for female students.
A student studying a course of Bachelor of Sciences stated that they are not allowed to wear revealing clothes. She said, “We are not allowed to wear dresses above knee length and even off shoulders are not allowed”. Another student pointed out that both these departments are present on the second floor of the Science block, and these restrictions and rules are passed down by the one of the departments. These are followed by several of the teachers other B. Sc departments.
Another student talks about an event that she witnessed first-hand at the Bachelor of Sciences department Freshers. She said, “A girl who happens to be the Class Representative of a department was questioned about the way she was dressed. The part that disgusted all of us was that she was apparently being slut shamed by our female professor.”
She continued, “This is not an isolated event. During our Fresher event, girls were not even allowed to wear something which would expose their knees and if they did, they would not be allowed to attend the Fresher party. This message was directed to us by our teachers from our department.”
These restrictions bring to the light and into question the misogynistic attitude present in every section of the Indian society. The sexist nature these restrictions show the still prevalent culture of victim blaming and failing to address the main problem. The problem is not what women or anyone as individuals choose to wear, but the fact that women are still objectified. The problem being that instead of addressing the root cause behind objectification and harassment, we are still trying to pin the blame on the victim.
Feature image credits: Aditi Seth
Prabhanu Kumar Das