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Punished For Wearing Kurtis Above The Knee, St. Francis College Students Speak Out

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We joined this college a few years back and for as long as we can remember, not a single girl showed up in shorts or dresses or anything that showed their bare legs off (not that there’s anything wrong with that either). Later, the college suggested that the dress code would be long tops (the length was not specified) and jeans, which nobody had a problem with and most people were already following it.

Suddenly, this year ,we were asked to wear only knee-length kurtis because they believe that it provides for a good learning environment. We don’t get how that’s relevant, and there are other silly reasons that we don’t want to go into. Now, the bizarre factor here is they are so particular about the length, that even if it is an inch or lesser than an inch above the knee, students are not allowed in the campus and that is ridiculous.

Please keep in mind that since this rule has been implemented, not a single girl showed up in anything that was above their buttocks. All their kurtis cover a good part of their thighs and just because it barely touches the knee, they think it’s inappropriate and they’re made to stand outside, miss classes and tests and lose attendance. Not to mention, the lady guards were harassing them and causing a ruckus, to say the least.

What’s bothering us students is the fact that why is every inch taken into account? We never said that we want to show up in as minimum clothing as possible. We’re not stupid. We all understand that a dress code is necessary in every educational institution. All we are saying is that just because our kurtis are short of an inch or two why are we being harassed and made to stand and miss classes? This is not why we’re here. We’re here to learn and get an education. But because of this whole dress code drama we’re being deprived of that too.

If the college is so bothered about our welfare as women, then instead of spending all this time and energy punishing us why not spend that same time getting someone to teach us self defense or any other things that would prepare us for the world? So much for the empowerment of women, SMH!

When a student hears the word ‘rule,’ the very first instinct is definitely not, “I’m not going to obey it.” We like to understand why the rule exists, and as students who are learning various subjects of our interest, it is surely not wrong to understand and comprehend the existence of this rule too.

Like previously said, we tried our best to understand the reasoning behind this, but on the other hand, we were repeatedly not understood by the administration. The communication from our end was not received with empathy on their end.

One rule can’t be forced on us by simply adding more stringent rules. Especially when these very rules have denied students entry to class, attendance and many more facilities inside the college.

Featured image source: Zanobia Tumbi/Facebook; Vrinda Malik/Instagram.
You must be to comment.
  1. Karan Singh

    Such a shame

  2. Sibaprasad Panigrahy

    Dress code for youth girls in hostel and college will not solve any problem as per my opinion. Every body wants to live with present life style. No one should cross the boundary line. Within the limit present life pattern is not so bad. Compulsory word is not at all good rather awareness is better.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about the campaign here.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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