Don’t teach women how to wear, ask your sons to respect women – Thasni Salim & Praveen Pilassery


Women are taught for long by ‘men’ gendered society, the rules and codes of conduct a woman should follow in life. It has been decoded rigidly from the religious norms which had always been framed for men dominated society.  There have been innumerous instances where women are denied the human rights. Recent incidents reveal the contradictory approach by the male chauvinist society denying the human rights of women.

In July 2017, Husna C., a student of Teacher  Training College, Jamia Nadwiya, Malappuram decided not to continue her studies  as the college management did not allow her to wear purdah. On 18th July, famous cricketer Irfan Pathan was attacked by hundreds in social media for  posting  a selfie with his wife.

The management of Jamia Nadwiya run by Kerala Nadavathul Mujahideen claims that students are expected to wear saree three days a week. Jamia Nadwiya is run by Kerala Nadavathul Mujahideen. As Husna is not comfortable to wear anything other than purdah outside as it is contrary to her beliefs, she requested to consider her submission to spare her from the uniform saree.

The authorities at Jamia Nadwiyya insisted on the dress code in the institution. “It cannot be relaxed for one individual. We have pre-school to BEd colleges under the trust and each institution has a particular uniform,” says assistant registrar of Jamia Nadwiyya, Adil Atheef.

“We told the girl that if she is so particular in wearing purdah, she can join the Arabic College where the uniform is purdah,” said Adil.

 Irfan Pathan’s selfie with his wife Safa Baig on facebook was a normal one like any other couples photo. What prompted these ‘religious orthodoxy’ is the visibility of Safa’s hands, face and nail polish. According to them Muslim woman is not expected to expose her hands and face and also not supposed to put nail polish; Also, they argue, putting photo of a woman publicly is not allowed in Islam!

In these two instances, men dictate women how to dress. In a democratic country like India, an adult have the whole freedom to chose her life. If the viewers are allowed to dictate the suitability of a dress, then no one can wear comfortably anything anywhere anytime. It is not about freedom to wear according to personal likes; it is definitely about right to choose. The contradictory incidents mentioned above happen simultaneously in the same society. In both cases it is others trying to dictate what adults need to wear.

Uniforms are introduced in order to make all students feel equal in front of each other as schools have students from different economic levels. In school level where students are not able to distinguish things it is understandable but it is not applicable in colleges. The students of Teacher Training Colleges are not children; they are the  adults who are aware about the existing social and economic diversities in the society. Whether Safa know how to wear or not and the choice of Purdah by Hasna is immaterial in front of the men dominance attitudes. They dictate rules. We saw the same attitude when moralists shouted on Priyanka Chopra for wearing a skirt in front of Prime Minister of India.

Respecting someone’s private space is part of progressiveness and civilization. Who can decide a suitable dress code for an occasion other than the person itself? Why someone need to fear that women are not capable of deciding suitable dress? The justifications like dressing of women attracts rapists etc are hollow inside. ‘Don’t teach women how to wear, ask your sons to respect woman’. This is applicable to all irrespective of their religion and other identities.

picture courtesy – India times


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