A female CBSE UGC NET aspirant allegedly faced harassment at the hands of an invigilator for wearing a jumpsuit to write her exam. According to a report in The Indian Express, Tirna Sengupta, a Delhi University student, was told by the staffer of the Delhi Public School, Siliguri that her dress is ‘indecent’ and she should return home. Only when she came back wearing a salwar kameez, was Tirna allowed to take the test.
“I was first verbally shamed for my choice of clothes by a DPS Siliguri teacher. I have worn a particular jumpsuit to almost all the exams as I feel relaxed in this attire,” says Sengupta. “I would have followed the CBSE dress code guidelines, if any, however, the staff shamed me. I had meticulously gone through the rules as on the admit card before appearing for the exam.” She continues, “Nobody outside the exam centre supported us. I felt humiliated and stressed out during this career-defining test.”
The CBSE, which conducts the National Entrance Test on behalf of University Grant Commission, however, has not specified any dress code for taking the exam. It only bars, watches and electronic gadgets from the examination halls.
It seems that the invigilator’s harassment stemmed from a personal bias.
It is 2018, yet women in our country have to pay the price of people’s conservative mentality. Sengupta had to face so much stress and inconvenience before taking a life-altering test, all because a staffer found her clothes to be inappropriate. When will our women be free from this policing? Who gave the authority to the invigilators to apparently bar her from taking an exam, when the CBSE itself has not specified any dress code?
- DU student Tirna Sengupta was barred from taking CBSE UGC NET because she was wearing a jumpsuit.
- The invigilator shamed her for her dress, calling it inappropriate, and asked her to go home.
- It is a common practice among people in our country to use professional authority to impose their personal virtues on others.
Time and again people misuse their position to wield their personal agendas on others. Many people in our society blur the lines between personal virtues and professional duties. They feel it is their right to use their power to punish and harass those who dare to rile their virtues. In this case, it was a harmless jumpsuit, which nearly wrecked a woman’s career. Tomorrow it can be her choice of footwear, or her hairstyle or her relationship status, which could encumber her professional life.
This moral policing of women for what they wear, how they talk, what they do is unjustifiable. No one should be able to get away with such act.
Which is why both DPS Siliguri and the CBSE need to take strict action against the said invigilator. If someone barred Sengupta from taking an exam because she turned up in a jumpsuit and manage to get away with it, such behaviour would only open gates for other self-righteous people who wield any authority.
Moreover, the invigilators’ act on behalf of CBSE, hence such a conduct reflects poorly on our education board. The Board of Education should look into the matter and make sure that no one considers moral policing to be their prime duty, even above following strict directives of the board. It is not shameful to wear clothes of your choice. It is not shameful to think of comfort when taking an important test. But it is shameful to harass a woman for making these choices. If a woman ends up paying a professional price for this intolerant mentality, then it must be a punishable offence.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.