Students at St. Francis College Hyderabad have asserted their right to choice of attire as their protest against the stringent and patriarchal dress code of the college has been successful. The all-women’s had imposed a ‘strict’ dress code on students which forced them to wear only Kurtis of knee-length or longer and not sleeveless. On Monday, the students blocked the entrance of the college and stood with placards protesting against moral policing.

Key Takeaways:

  • The dress-code, imposed on August 1, of St. Francis College forced women to wear knee-length Kurtis.
  • The college appointed women guards to check the length of the Kurtis. Many students were not allowed to attend the classes.
  • On Saturday and Sunday videos of guards imposing the dress-code and harassing the students was released.
  • On Monday, hundreds of students blocked the college entrance and protested against the dress-code since morning.
  • Students called off the protest in the afternoon after the college agreed to remove the dress-code mandating knee-length Kurti. Other restrictions on dress remain the same.

The diktat on the controversial dress-code

The college’s diktat on the dress code for women was imposed on August 1, 2019. It has also taken measures to implement the dress code ‘strictly’ within the campus. Girls with an inch shorter Kurtis were stopped at the entrance and not allowed to attend the class. The college had women security guards to check the Kurtis of the students at the college entrance and allow them only if their dress follows the new dress code. On Friday, a number of girls were barred at the college entrance as the guard at the gate checked the length of their Kurtis. The guards humiliated, tugged their Kurtis and questioned them on their dressing sense.

On Saturday and Sunday, videos of guards harassing the girls at the gate went viral. One of the students in the video said, “At a time when we are talking about women empowerment, such a diktat is against the entire campaign.”

The college defended the dress code by saying that long kurta will bring “good marriage proposals.” Besides, they also said that the dress code was imposed so that the male members of the college do not feel “uncomfortable” looking at the shape of students’ thighs.

The college defended the dress code by saying that long kurta will bring “good marriage proposals.” Besides, they also said that the dress code was imposed so that the male members of the college do not feel “uncomfortable” looking at the shape of students’ thighs. Here, it should be mentioned that St. Francis is an all-women’s college with hardly 20 male officials.

Student’s protest against the dress-code

Hundreds of students boycotted their class, held placards and the blocked the entrance of the college in their outrage against the new dress code. The placards had powerful messages like ‘We are skipping our lessons to teach you one’, ‘My body my choice’, ‘Our voices speak, not our clothes,’ among others.

The students were not happy with the dress codes, firstly, because it means changing their entire wardrobe in the middle of the semester and some students cannot even afford to do it monetarily. Secondly, because the new dress code did not aim at uniformity but was a product of the patriarchal mind-set that objectifies women.

In conversation with The News Minute, a student of the college said, “We don’t want to be a part of an institution that wants to institutionalise this kind of patriarchy. Speaking to us in such a tone, giving us subliminal messages that we are arousing males, I don’t think is a very appropriate environment or a good environment for all of us to be in. I don’t think it helps our intellectual development either.”

“There are other issues in college which need to be resolved. Girl students contracted Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) from using unhygienic washrooms. Required parking space is not provided for students vehicles,”

“There are other issues in college which need to be resolved. Girl students contracted Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) from using unhygienic washrooms. Required parking space is not provided for students vehicles,” said another student (in conversation with The Hindu) while pointing out that the college management could have addressed these issues instead of implementing the dress code.

The protest called off, but restrictions still prevail

The protest was called off in the afternoon when it was announced that the administration has agreed to remove the dress code that mandated the knee-length Kurti. However, as one of the students said, they still have to follow the conditions mentioned in the declaration that the students were made to sign before the academic year. They cannot wear sleeveless, cold-shoulder or crop-tops to college.

Image credit: The News Minute

Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.Tv

Also Read: Is Tamil Nadu Government’s New Dress Code Subtly Policing Women?

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