Dress code for women
Let us not make even decent men indecent by wearing indecorous dresses
IN 2000, some of the boy students of the Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda took up the issue of dress code for girl students, blaming them for dressing in an indecent manner, which resulted in their being incited to eve-tease and molest them (vide the news item in The Hindu of July 27 that year). On reading this, one would naturally wonder whether decently dressed girls are spared by them! Sarika Shah, who was molested and died as a result, was a modest girl, wearing her dress decently, and many other women, both from cities and villages, have been and are the victims of molestation and rape, despite their being modest and decently dressed.
Then, some years ago, the lady principal of a women's college in Chennai stipulated that students should wear only saris and if at all they chose salwar-kameez, they should pin the dhuppatta to the kameez in such a way that nothing is exposed whatever be their bodily movements. Some of the women's organisations took exception to this and flayed her for it ferociously, as though she were infringing on girls' freedom. Very recently, yet another principal has prescribed, among other norms of behaviour for both boys and girls, a decent dress code too.
Why invite trouble?
Though a girl is at perfect liberty to choose her own mode of dress, the fact remains that indecently revealing dresses instigate the opposite sex and adds fuel to the (already) burning fire. Though there is definitely some logic in the question, "Then, why should men eve-tease and molest even the decently-dressed girls?" a sane girl would ponder the consequences of inviting avoidable trouble on herself by wearing such dresses that border on obscenity by posing herself the counter-question, "When most men cannot behave decently even with decently dressed women, what a more dangerous situation an indecently dressed girl would be inviting upon herself?"
Many hold the view that sari is a decent dress. Of course, it is, but only when one wears it properly! Any dress, for that matter, can be worn both decently and indecently. The mode of dress has nothing to do with decency, but the mode of wearing it has something to do with it! A girl in salwar-kameez shall look more modest than in a sari, if she puts on a dhuppatta for covering her upper body and pins it to her kameez at appropriate spots, as suggested by the woman principal mentioned above.
While pleading for salwar-kameez, women's organisations should not shirk the responsibility of insisting upon the girls' putting on the thing called dhuppatta which is to be worn upon the kameez for the sake of modesty. Some girls raised a hue and cry that pinning the dhuppatta would restrict the movements of their hands, but it is not so, if one judiciously does it. Even if girls feel that dhuppatta is irksome, the upper part of the kameez could be provided with frills in such a way that it would give a modest look to it.
Undo his designs by being wise
Now, the author of this article would like to put a frank question to the girls by which she (who has been labelled a feminist as most of her writings are about women's problems created by men) is very likely to become more (un)popular among men.
My dear girls! Have not you observed where the gaze of men around you and opposite you travels on your bodies, irrespective of their being either close relatives or strangers? Some of them are so clever as to look at you that way when you look away from them. Men are born as such and girls wearing indecently revealing dresses would only be attracting their attention as well as that of even decent men making them also cast furtive glances at you. This would be the worst disservice a woman could be doing to men in general, and to herself in particular. Let us not make even decent men indecent by wearing indecorous dresses and T-shirts with obscene wordings.
Let us not, in the name of equality, liberty and modernity, tread the path of the so-called liberated women of the West. This may sound conservative, but it is not so. One should never deride and discard certain good things just for the reason they are age-old customs or accept and glorify anything solely because it is new and modern, without delving deeply into the pros and cons of it.
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