Dress code for women teachers reeks of patriarchy

Saree compulsory for teachers at Sahyadri Government College
Last Updated 25 July 2010, 05:08 IST

A controversial circular, making it mandatory for women teachers to wear saree has been issued by the Principal of Government owned Sahyadri Arts and Commerce College here. The circular also has triggered an interesting debate on gender issues as the rationale of imposing dress code only for women teachers is questioned.

Sahyadri is a first grade college where a few post graduate courses are also offered. More than 60 women teachers are serving here at present. The institute is an unit college of Kuvempu University.

In the circular dated July 22, 2007, Principal Prof B S Mahadevaiah has said that “as the classes for the academic year 2010-11 will commence shortly, all members of teaching staff including the permanent and guest lecturers should abide by the dress code, that is should attend the college by wearing saree.” The circular has been forwarded to all the staff members serving here. The woman lecturers serving at the institute have said that the tone of the letter itself is patriarchal.

To appease government
Last year also there was a debate on imposing dress code for the women teachers at the staff meeting which was opposed by majority of them including the male lecturers. A teacher on condition of anonymity told Deccan Herald that this year, the Principal has imposed the dress code without consulting the staff members.

“Personally I am more comfortable with salwar than in saree. Dress also is related to identity and individual freedom. Only reactionary minds can issue such circular which target only women lecturers,” said a woman teacher serving here on condition of anonymity. She further alleged that dress code is an exercise by the Principal, a Sanskrit scholar to appease the BJP lead Government which has nominated him for the consultative panel of Sanskrit University.

Principal clarifies
Speaking to Deccan Herald, Principal Prof B S Mahadevaiah said “it is difficult to identify the teachers who come in informal dress and we get them confused for students. The circular was issued to identify the teachers and ensure some amount of discipline in the campus.” He clarified that there is no punishment for those who fail to abide by the dress code.

When asked about the absence of any dress code for male teachers, he said that “I have found no problem with male teachers so far. Male lecturers dress up in the manner which is acceptable.”

Kuvempu University Registrar Prof M Krishnappa told Deccan Herald that there is no dress code in the university campus for teachers. “Students enrolled for courses like MBA, MSW are asked to wear uniforms but teachers enjoy liberty with regard to dress,” he added.
DH News Service

(Published 24 July 2010, 18:07 IST)

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