There is an uneasy truce in Jaffna University over a dress code for its women students. The code, drawn up by the university and the Arts Faculty Students Union, has its roots in the Tamils’ fear about “cultural degradation” in post-war Jaffna. But due to vehement protests by the women, the code has been made optional.
The controversy began when the university banned beards, forgetting that Muslim students are enjoined to sport a beard. The ban on the beard was subsequently lifted, but men students were barred from wearing jeans and T-shirts and the women were asked to eschew skirts and the Shalwar Kameez and come in a sari or an abaya, if Muslim.
When the women pointed out the difficulties in coming in a sari on a daily basis, the university made the sari mandatory only on Fridays, this time citing Hindu traditions. When this too received flak, the university decided to make it optional.
But surprisingly, on March 3, the Arts Faculty Students’ Union sought the enforcement of the “Sari on Fridays” rule. Incensed women questioned the right of the union to dictate a dress code. In a statement on March 11, they strongly objected to an alleged remark by a male student that “women in saris will be respected and those not in it will be trampled.”
Some touted wearing the sari as a condition for marriage. Given the vehement protest, the union backed out.
Courtesy:New Indian Express