Dress code


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

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The University of Delhi’s (DU) Administration has decided to make some regulations to “improve the condition of women” studying in the University, which will be enforced from 18th March 2018.

In order to retain women’s dignity, DU has imposed a dress code for all female students to “protect them from the male gaze.” Any woman dressed “indecently” will not be allowed to enter the college premises. One of the professors of DU claims that this decision was made only for the benefit of the female students and it must be respected.

A five-page circular has been released on the official DU website that specifies the dress code according to each season. Just a day after the circular was published, residents of the Rajib Gandhi Hostel for Girls burned the circular outside the warden’s office in protest. Similar news from other hostels also emerged.

Furthermore, in order to put the backbreaking efforts of Gender Sensitization Cells (GSCs), the Women’s Development Cells (WDCs), support groups, etc. to rest, DU has ordered a ban on the creation, functioning, and association with the queer and feminist collectives in all the DU colleges. When asked for a reason, one of the members of the administration made a claim that the history of these groups had been scrutinised before coming to the decision. He further added, “The feminist groups have historically shown a pattern of eventually turning into feminazi squads. Therefore, this decision is crucial in order to protect the minds of innocent female students from getting corrupted.” The ban on queer collectives is further defended by him as an adherence to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Section 292-4 of the IPC (obscenity prevention).

Attacking these rules and the sections on the grounds of being “backward and ambiguous”, the WDCs all around the DU colleges have taken to the streets in protest. Though the women’s colleges were seen in the forefront, groups like Pinjre Tod and Nazariye have also joined hands with the WDCs. Meanwhile, GSCs have called for demonstrations to symbolise that women and the queer community are fully capable of making their own decisions and do not need any binding rules in order to decide for them.

In response to these protests that made the daily functioning of the office difficult, the administration has offered to establish a Redressal Committee headed by three men. However, this has not left the students satisfied. During a protest that took place on Monday outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office, Sheena Rawat, President, WDC, Cluster Innovation Centre, told DU Beat, “The fact that the Redressal Committee is proposed to be headed by an all male panel proves that they have not understood our demands.” “The protests won’t stop till these rules are revoked,” another demonstrator asserted.
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Feature Image Credits: TA Pinto

Khyati Sanger

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