Here’s a question we bet you cannot answer: How can a piece of clothing be dangerous? Even the authorities of the Jain temples in Bhopal cannot give you a logical answer, yet they have banned the entry of women in the temples if they are dressed in jeans and a top, or anything transparent.
“Women devotees should dress decently while visiting the temples,” said Digambar Jain Panchayat president Ramesh Choudhury on Wednesday, as reported by Deccan Chronicle. Men wearing jeans cannot enter the temples either. They can only step into Jain temple premises if they wear either a kurta and pyjamas or a shirt and trousers.
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Barring jeans is absolutely illogical. They are just a pair of trousers in denim fabric, after all. And if women wear midriff-baring tops, what of it? Saris also allow the belly to be bared, but that appears to be fine.
Temple authorities tend to be highly patriarchal, apparently in the cause of ‘maintaining tradition’. But these traditions are often unfair: certain temples don’t allow women to enter at all, a clear violation of the equal rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.
But it’s not only temples which have such bizarre rules. All over the country, individual colleges have banned their women students from wearing clothes such as shorts, sleeveless tops, crop tops and other items of clothing their principals’ closed minds consider indecent – including jeans.
At Delhi’s Hindu College women’s hostel recently, a new rule that made it mandatory for girls to ‘dress according to the norms of the society’ was met with storms of protests from students and teachers, and had to be withdrawn.
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Meanwhile, the government of Haryana banned both male and female teachers from wearing jeans in schools because ‘teachers are role models and wearing jeans is inappropriate in rural areas’. True, in conservative areas of the country, jeans might seem unorthodox. But let’s not forget that children in rural areas are someday likely work in urban areas and ought to be comfortable with urban norms.
Let’s get back to the question I asked right at the beginning. How can a piece of clothing be dangerous? Restricting women’s wear is not the solution to violence against women. Education and openness to new ideas, even in clothing, is the answer.
Feature image credit: India Today