Today, hundreds of students of St Francis College, Hyderabad, have skipped class to stage a dharna outside their college gate to protest the new dress code. It came into effect from August 1, 2019.
On Friday, a lady security guard halted multiple female students at the college gate whose kurti length was above their knees. In a viral video, it can be seen that the guard is scanning the students one-by-one and allowing only a few to pass through the gate. In another video, the principal, sister Sandra Horta, is questioning a group of students whose kurtis were above their knees.
The Deccan Chronicle quoted a student standing outside the gate saying, “Things have gotten worse as we are being humiliated by the security guards for wearing kurtis that end less than an inch above the knee. We are made to stand outside the college, missing classes and tests.”
The college allegedly warned students of a week-long suspension if they refused to comply with the new rule.
According to the News Minute, the college issued a circular in mid-July instructing students to wear only knee-length kurtis to college saying that it will help the girls find good marriage proposals in the future. In response, five student representatives wrote a letter to the management saying that wearing a kurti everyday is not practical for all. The management responded saying the college was not a “place for body show.”
Despite resistance, the dress code remained unchanged.
Two months later, lady security guards started keeping an eye on students and reprimanded those who didn’t follow the dress code. However, students say, everyone was allowed inside the college.
“The first three days they allowed us to go in. They just shouted at us saying ‘What is this!?’, chased us and pulled us back, but they didn’t stop us from going in. But on Friday, they started to stop us because apparently they had given us a warning,” a student told the News Minute.
As soon as the video of the incident went viral, students across India called the act misogynist and highly regressive. The united student federation-revolutionary – a student body at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad – released a statement in solidarity with students protesting at the moment.
“The patriarchal mindset that exist in the society as the dominant ideology is making every effort to yield its powers in matters concerning individual choices of a student. This event has occured at a time when students across the universities in the country have been demanding safe and secure campus and measures like institutions of GSCASH to punish sexual harassers,” said the statement.
The college’s alumni and students also alleged that the institution has only created a false image of being respectful towards women.
“This college talks about women’s empowerment but it is merely lip service. When we questioned the code, they said a short dress invites men. This is ridiculous. We get good matches only if we wear proper attire,” a student told Deccan Chronicle.
The administration has not responded to the ongoing agitation as yet.
Featured image credit: Video screengrab