In­dian col­lege now bans ripped jeans

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MUM­BAI:

One of Mum­bai’s best known col­leges has banned fe­male stu­dents from wear­ing ripped jeans, spark­ing the lat­est row against dress codes and cur­fews im­posed on women that stu­dents say are dis­crim­i­na­tory and sex­ist. St Xavier’s Col­lege, which had pre­vi­ously for­bid­den fe­male stu­dents from wear­ing shorts, sleeve­less tops and short dresses, this month added ripped jeans to its list of banned cloth­ing.

The Je­suit in­sti­tu­tion be­came the lat­est to in­cur the wrath of fe­male stu­dents across the coun­try who have been protest­ing rules that they say are dis­crim­i­na­tory and dis­tress­ing. Most uni­ver­si­ties in In­dia have a 6 pm or 8 pm cur­few for women, while men have a later tim­ing, or no cur­few. Uni­ver­si­ties also im­pose dress codes on women, limit or screen their male vis­i­tors, and have other rules that men don’t.

“In the name of safety, you can’t po­lice women and im­pose these pa­tri­ar­chal, dis­crim­i­na­tory rules,” said De­van­gana Kalita, a former Delhi Univer­sity stu­dent who is part of Pin­jra Tod, or break the cage, a Del­hi­wide cam­paign protest­ing such rules. “We want uni­ver­si­ties to rec­og­nize that we are adults, and that they should not be curb­ing our free­dom and mo­bil­ity. Pro­vid­ing a safe en­vi­ron­ment for women goes be­yond just im­pos­ing rules,” she said.

Safety of women

Calls to staff at St Xavier’s Col­lege for a com­ment on the re­cent ban were not re­turned. The Dean of Stu­dent Wel­fare in Delhi Univer­sity, JM Khu­rana, said he was not aware of Pin­jra Tod and that he did not wish to com­ment on univer­sity rules. The safety of women in In­dia came un­der the spot­light af­ter the fa­tal gang rape of a col­lege stu­dent in New Delhi on a bus in De­cem­ber 2012 that sparked global out­rage and led to the tight­en­ing of laws for crimes against women in In­dia.

Amid a widen­ing de­bate on women’s safety in the coun­try, some politi­cians, univer­sity of­fi­cials and even the po­lice have asked women to take self-de­fence train­ing, to “dress de­cently” and to not loi­ter out­side af­ter dark. But stu­dents have de­manded an end to cur­fews, and asked of­fi­cials to fo­cus in­stead on safer pub­lic trans­port, more fe­male cam­pus se­cu­rity per­son­nel and bet­ter light­ing in and around cam­puses.

Kalita said early cur­fews are keep­ing women from in­tern­ships, em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and cam­pus ac­tiv­i­ties. “Uni­ver­si­ties say: ‘your par­ents want the cur­few’. But it’s an ab­surd ar­gu­ment,” Kalita said. Else­where, par­tic­u­larly in the more con­ser­va­tive south­ern states, the sit­u­a­tion is worse, said Van­dana Venkatesh, who sur­veyed col­leges in Tamil Nadu state ear­lier this year.

Women stu­dents re­ported phys­i­cal in­tim­i­da­tion and threats of vi­o­lence from col­lege au­thor­i­ties for ques­tion­ing dis­crim­i­na­tory rules, she said. “Many of them com­plained about feel­ing claus­tro­pho­bic, anx­ious and be­lit­tled,” she said. Ear­lier this month, women stu­dents in a col­lege in the south­ern state of Ker­ala protested the hos­tel’s 4 pm cur­few and a rule ban­ning mobile phones. “There is a sense of col­lec­tive strength and power now. The more women there are out on the streets, in pub­lic places, the safer we will be,” Kalita said. — Reuters

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