Subscribe to South Asia Citizens Wire | feeds from | @sacw
Home > General > India: On Moral Policing over Dress in Campuses

India: On Moral Policing over Dress in Campuses

9 May 2016

print version of this article print version

o o o

The Times of India

Hindu College withdraws ‘dress code rule’ for girls’ hostel after protests

Riya Sharma | TNN | Apr 28, 2016, 01.02 AM IST

The debate over moral policing of what woman can wear always comes under fire, but this time, the injunction came not from some small-town school or college, but from Delhi University’s prestigious Hindu College. The college inserted a rule about hostel dressing for women in its new prospectus for this year, using the phrase ’dress code’, and as expected, it caused howls of protest from girl students all across DU.

Initially, the college authorities had claimed that they had not used the phrase ’dress code’ in the prospectus, but the rule in question said, "Residents are expected to dress in a manner which is the normal norm in the society while visiting the dining hall, visitor’s room and other common spaces in the hostel or the College. The dress-code will be notified on the notice board, if considered necessary." The latter part of the rule was later removed from the prospectus with a whitener after students protested. DU girls, however, say the effort to impose a dress code in hostels is both unfair and illogical.
[. . .].

o o o

Mid Day - 01-May-2016

Paromita Vohra: The Rules

Recently, the highly ranked Hindu College, in Delhi University, started a women’s hostel. Everyone cheered and few asked why it took the 117-year-old college so long. After all, why single it out? This is the story in so many colleges even in the big cities of India.

Anyway, as we know, all proclamations of gender equality are a gift horse that must be looked in the mouth. And here’s what a look at this particular gift reveals. First, the fees: R82,000 annually for the women’s hostel in comparison to Rs 47,000 for men. Residents cannot enroll in coaching classes or part/full-time employment without prior permission from the warden. Thoda gender, thoda class. Equal treatment of another kind.

A 2015 photograph of student activist Shriya Subhashini (unseen) at Delhi University campaigning for equal rights for women in hostels. Pic/AFP
A 2015 photograph of student activist Shriya Subhashini (unseen) at Delhi University campaigning for equal rights for women in hostels. Pic/AFP

There was of course a dress code-why control by halves? "Residents are expected to dress in a manner which is the normal norm in society" while in common areas. That’s the kind of vagueness that leaves everything to the discretion of "authorities" clearing the path for, well, authoritarianism. This rule has been withdrawn now after protests.

Most importantly, girls cannot have visitors in their rooms and must meet only in the visitors room. And then, only those whom their parents have submitted in an approved list at the time of admission.

No other rule belies the true approach to women than the last one. Girls’ education is our favourite ploy to prove we care about women’s freedom and progress, when this is the very thing we grudge women. How are students supposed to make new friends and support structures in a new place then?

Not so long ago, girls at Aligarh University had to fight against discrimination in library access. The movement Pinjra Tod/Break the Hostel Locks, organising for fair, freer women’s hostels, has hundreds of women from around the country responding, often anonymously because they feared retribution from authorities if they speak up openly.

Of course "authorities", those authors of rules, will have many "good" reasons to justify prejudicial rules. It’s all for the safety and izzat of girls. Their parents want us to do this.

And it’s true. Parents collude with authorities on this front. They heap all responsibility and rules on young women so no one can ask them, bhai, what rules and responsibilities apply to you? These kinds of rules are in fact the refusal to take responsibility for a nurturing, enabling environment for young people to transition to adulthood.With all these rules, the young Dalit woman, Delta Meghwal murdered and possibly raped in a college in Bihar was not protected even in her own hostel.

Such rules show that we want to give women an education, but throw it in their faces, saying, don’t ask for anything else. Don’t expect to be free, make friends and strengthen networks, learn new things, explore new cities,

learn how to be a person in the world. Your job is just to be an achieving mark-sheet, which is society’s forged certificate of progressiveness. Last week, a young woman in Kota killed herself because she thought her JEE marks weren’t good enough, though they were far more than that.

But, how to have any sense of proportion, when that’s all you are expected to have - marks? Parents, wardens and colleges need to think about the meaning of education: how it can strengthen spirits and make resilient adults who can cope with life. The fantasy of submissive automata might seem to indicate order and control. But it is violence whose costs are the deep loss of spirit and soul of our own children. Grow up and face this so it can change.

Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at

o o o

The Indian Express

No-hugging, dress code order leads to uproar in city college

The notice, which was issued on Thursday, prohibited “public display of affection”, “hugging”, etc.

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal

New Delhi

Published: Mar 21, 2015, 4:11

VIPS is a private college affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.

Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies (VIPS) has issued a notice banning “unhealthy behavior” such as “exhibition of affection”, and warned students to “dress appropriately” while on campus. The notice goes on to state that those who do not comply with these norms will be dismissed from the institute. VIPS is a private college affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.

The notice, which was issued on Thursday, prohibited “public display of affection”, “hugging”, “holding hands by female/male students”, “any kind of unhealthy behavior” etc.

It also stated that students are required to “dress appropriately while in campus” and that their attire should be “befitting of a graduate student studying for a professional graduate programme”.

It banned students from wearing “sleeveless, transparent, see through or low neckline dresses”. It also barred “short pants and short dresses in the campus” apart from “social functions”.

Warning students of strict action in case of non-compliance, the notice states, “At the first instance, a warning will be issued. Those who continue to repeat such instances will be suspended and persisting in such behavior will result in dismissal.”

Chairman of the college SC Vats — who left the Congress to join the BJP before the Delhi Assembly polls — said, “Initially, I wasn’t aware of the notice as I am not in Delhi. But such a notice has been issued. I spoke to a teacher of the mass communication department and she confirmed that a notice had been issued regarding the clothes and behavior of students. However, I am not aware of the background which led to this decision. I will be back in Delhi on Monday and I will look into the matter.”

Meanwhile, the notice has invited the ire of students, with many questioning the logic of the move. “The notice says that hugging or holding of hands is unnatural. It’s absolutely bizarre. The college can’t define what “decency” is,” a student said.

Another student said, “How is wearing a sleeveless dress ‘inappropriate behavior’ which can even lead to dismissal? What century is the college management living in?”

Despite repeated calls, the management of the school could not be reached for comments.

o o o

The New Indian Express - 30th November 2014

Hindu Outfit Demands Dress Code in Schools, Colleges


JIND (HARYANA): The right-wing Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha today demanded that a dress code be introduced in schools and colleges and mobile phones be banned on their premises "to check increasing obscenity".

"Vulgur clothes lead to incidents of rape. To curb increasing obscenity in society, a particular dress code should be introduced in schools and colleges.

"The attire should cover the body and not be indecent. Moreover girls should be banned from wearing tight jeans and tops," Vice President of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) Dharmapal Siwach told reporters here.

Members of the Mahasabha under the leadership of Haryana in-charge Narendra Sharma will soon meet state Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar urging him to enforce their demands, he said.

"Our culture is getting affected due to live-in- relationship and hence a law prohibiting live-in-relationships should be enacted," Siwach said. Siwach said the "society’s mentality is not mature enough to give unrestricted freedom to the youths".

The Mahasabha has also demanded that covering of face by girls while driving two-wheelers should be banned.

"To secure our culture, guardians will have to consider the recommendations made by the Mahasabha," the ABMH vice-president said.

Siwach demanded that wearing "dupatta" should be made mandatory for girls going to schools and colleges.

He also demanded a ban on carrying of mobiles during school and college hours, saying they allow access to websites that promote obscenity.

He claimed that their campaign has received support from several Khap Panchayats or caste councils.