On Campus

Girls can't wear jeans to school, say university presidents

Indian state government tells schools to ignore illegitimately issued female dress code

In Kanpur, India, the state government and a group claiming to represent the presidents of the state’s publicly funded universities are clashing over whether or not girls should be allowed to wear jeans to school.

According to Indian media outlets, Uttar Pradesh Pracharya Parishad (UPPP), a  group of 22 post-secondary principals, unanimously voted to ban women from wearing jeans on campus last week, saying that the move would reduce incidents of harassment. The group also voted to ban students from bringing cell phones to school.

“It has been viewed that eve-teasers generally target girls wearing jeans or modern clothes,” said university principal Ashok Kumar Srivastava. If girls wore traditional Indian clothes, he said cases of sexual harassment near college campuses would decrease. “We can take precautionary measures to prevent the harassment of girls.”

The decision was made soon after after four girls’ schools in Kanpur prohibited students from wearing jeans, tight tops, sleeveless blouses, high heels and tight-fitting clothes on campus.

Public education officials reacted to the ban with anger, rebuking the vote as an “immature decision” and “dictatorial.” The president of one teachers’ organization said he had never heard of the group UPPP. “If there was any such body, they would at least have informed [us].”

The next day, the state government issued a warning to all local officials that the ban on wearing jeans on campus was not to be enforced.  The department of higher education also demanded that any schools that had passed the bans withdraw them or face legal action. The four universities that had initially forbidden jeans on campus promptly complied.

A government spokesperson says the UPPP is not a recognized organization, and that the group was only formed approximately four months ago.

Explaining the ban on mobile phones, Srivastava said: “More than a necessity, mobile phones have become a luxury for students, and they waste much of their time talking to friends.”

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