St Francis College for Women removed the regressive and outdated dress code for girls that did not allow them to wear kurtis above their knee, claiming that long kurtis with sleeves would fetch good marriage proposals for all girls.
Practising moral policing, the institution introduced the new regulations banning shorts and kurtis above knee length, on August 1 after a circular was sent on the college WhatsApp group notifying all students of the changes in rules.
A group of students shared videos of the new dress code implementation terming it as regressive, backward and outdated.
A video also showed security guards opening the gates only for one person at a time to pass through, and in another, a woman security guard can be seen checking a group of girls and deciding who to send in.
Another video showed Principal Sister Sandra Horta questioning a group of students whose kurtas were above their knees. In the video, a few of the girls can be heard telling the Principal that they cannot keep changing wardrobe as everyone cannot afford it.
Speaking to The Logical Indian, a student at St Francis College for women, who requested anonymity, said: “Couple of weeks ago, we are asked to wear kurtis that went below our knee level and there were comments about how we would get married only if we wear long kurtis. We were kicked out of our classes and there was a lot of policing at the gate.”
“We already have an establishing dress code that does not allow us to wear crop tops or sleeveless, which to some extent is understandable for an institution to have such kind of rules. We were abiding by those rules. However, a lot of students are not from India, and a lot of trans people are also not comfortable wearing kurtis,” she adds.
Guys, remember the day you came to this college for your admission? Y'all had a sense of admiration for the college and…
“The principal announced that all students must wear only kurtis and this announcement was made mid-year. She narrowed this down further and stated that the length of kurtis should be below knee length. And as you can see in many videos, the girls were sent back home just because their kurtis weren’t below their knee-length,” Zanobia Tumbi, a former student at St Francis College told The Logical Indian.
“The management hired female security guards just to make sure these girls do not enter the gates of the college. These “guards” have appeared to be rude not just with the students but with parents as well. How do students study in such an environment?” Tumbi added.
Zanobia, in her Facebook post, also wrote that the college authorities told the student representatives that “standing up for a cause is blasphemous, raising your voice is blasphemous”.
She claimed that the students were humiliated every day for wearing a kurti that “was just an inch or less above the knee”. The students were made to stand outside the college, losing out on classes and examinations.
One of the students, in the video, can be heard saying, “At a time when we are talking about women empowerment, such a diktat is against the entire campaign.” One of the posts of a former student of the college alleged that the “below the knee length” rule was imposed citing that “thighs attract boys.”
The students called a protest against the new dress code on Monday, September 16, against the harassment they faced and questioning if women came to college to get marriage proposals.
After massive protests, the institution has now rolled back its diktat.
Hyderabad: Students of St. Francis College For Women protest against the new rule under which the students have been ordered to wear 'kurtis' below knee length while shorts, sleeveless or other similar dresses are banned in the campus. #Telangana pic.twitter.com/x6luaPuvRE
— ANI (@ANI) September 16, 2019
“Since morning we have been on a protest outside the college gates, demanding an explanation from the authorities for the new rules that have been implemented. We finally managed to convince the authorities and the old rules have been done away with. It is a success for all of us,” one of the students told The Logical Indian.
#Hyderabad-More than100 students are protesting at the St. #Francis College in Hyd, against Moral Policing. Students tell me- they have been asked to wear ‘long kurtas’ to ‘not distract male faculty’ and ‘for better marriage proposals.’ ‘No negotiations’ -say students #Telangana pic.twitter.com/OVm9tB8oem
— Rishika Sadam (@RishikaSadam) September 16, 2019
The Logical Indian Take
On one hand, we have schools promoting gender equality with unisex uniforms, on the other, institutions like St Francis that are creating a further divide in the society and re-enforcing prejudices around women’s clothing.
The college and its administration, it appears, still believe that women are educated only to become eligible for marriage. At a time when women have reached the moon, such regressive and outdated actions impede their potential growth as equal members of society.