By Krishna Pathak:
On the one hand, while the Constitution of India grants the rules for liberty and freedom, there have been various attempts on the part of certain institutions to curtail certain freedom of the citizen. One of the foremost controversies that have been debated is the enforcement of dress codes in colleges and universities of India. Dress codes are one of those issues which have the earmarks of bringing out spontaneous opinion from people; with those in titles of authority naturally approving them, while those who are targeted (students) protesting against them.
Universities are by and large looked forward to offering more freedom to their students than schools. Partially, this is because of the universally endorsed fact that those in colleges or universities are young adults who are at the point of entering a much more functional life than before and also because higher educational institutions are hypothesized to revivify original thought. But regrettably, some universities and colleges of the nation do not seem to seek for these goals. Recently, there have been many debates over the issue of certain colleges in Tamil Nadu enforcing dress codes upon the students. The everyday argument in agreement with dress code is that executing standards of dresses forges a more professional and a more accommodating ambience for students. I believe this is a satisfactory perception in theory, but when undertaken, does not work.
For one thing, dress codes often verge on unfair bias or are often discriminating against women. When a dress code is imposed on women, it is generally backed by the argument that restrictions on dresses enforce some discipline as certain type of dresses can be provocative. I think this is where the issue of free choice of women closes. The core of the matter lies in the response to the question of whether women’s dressing should be looked down upon to the level that it is judged to be a distraction? Is a girl wearing a sleeveless outfit or a dress, for instance, a risk to the college environment? Also, should the colleges which are meant to offer a moderate and an equal environment for all, relate themselves with matters that have no sway on their academic dispositions? Instead of enforcing restriction on women’s clothing, why do we make no attempt of any kind to educate boys not to objectify women? Until men learn to acknowledge that women are equal, that they have the rights to undertake their own decisions, they will go on with imposing absurd rules that bid to regulate the way women dress.
In addition, limiting clothing choices also limits individuality and it is also an obstacle to personal expression. Students in colleges should be permitted to express themselves without judgement as long as it does not hurt others. A set of arbitrary rules that define what is and what is not suitable to wear, don’t set up a supportive learning atmosphere.