KP students rebel against the mandatory abaya dress code imposed in universities
The Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa issued orders to educational institutes across the province to follow the dress code a few months ago.
The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa decided to impose a province-wide dress code a few months ago. Many university students are referring to the decision as ‘an act of moral policing’. Several students are dead set on opposing the ruling, which they claim, has been implemented without considering their views.
Details of the Dress Code
The Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa issued orders to educational institutes across the province to follow the dress code a few months ago. Hazara University, The University of Peshawar, Islamia College, Agriculture University Peshawar, and many other institutes In KP followed the government’s directives.
The female students were instructed to wear an abaya and were forbidden from donning tight jeans, T-shirts, putting on heavy makeup and jewelry, or carrying heavy bags at educational institutes. Similarly, male students were told not to wear tight jeans, wrist chains, and keep long hair.
Students Reaction to the Dress Code
Yusra Khan, a Peshawar-based undergraduate student, said:
This is shameful and incomprehensible. Why is the government policing the universities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? How can the universities implement a decision against the wishes of the students?
The young student further stated:
We are following our culture. We are not children; we are mature students. The university wants to limit our thinking and take us back to an era where women were not allowed out of their homes without an abaya.
While speaking to a media outlet, Romaisa Tariq, a student at the Agriculture University, said:
Such a dress code has not been implemented anywhere in the country except KP. The government wanted to police the students, so they implemented the decision. However, the students will never follow such instructions. Universities are closed right now, but when they reopen, we will resist.
The student further stated:
Already, the Covid-19 pandemic has made it difficult for us to continue our education. If such a decision is implemented, many female students will drop out of the universities.
While many students of the province resisted the decision, some supported the dress code and requested further government involvement. A student of Islamia College, Tahir Ullah, said:
At known places like Oxford University, the dress code is the identity and recognition of the students. Universities across KP should focus not only on the dress code but also on students’ financial issues. Every year, the admission fee and other related charges are increased. Many students can no longer afford higher education.
What are the Authorities saying about the Dress Code?
While speaking to a media outlet, Dr. Khadim Hussain, an educationist, said:
The implementation of a dress code at universities against the wishes of the students is not okay. It is like we have returned to the period of radicalization and extremism. The government has failed to improve the quality of higher education in the province.
He also brought up the cases of harassment reported in Islamia College and stated:
No action has been taken against the accused faculty members. We are already living in a society that prevents girls from accessing and completing education. Imposing a dress code will strengthen negative views about the higher education environment.
On the other hand, the Advisor to the Chief Minister on Higher Education, Kamran Bangash, clarified the dress code decision and said:
The universities have the right to follow a dress code to eliminate the difference between the rich and poor. We are not policing the students but giving them the right direction as the decision will not only benefit the students but will also help the parents. By following the dress code, the students will focus on their academics instead of competing for the best attire.
Although the students are voicing their concerns against the conservative dress code, the government has clarified why the decision has been implemented. The resistance to the ruling is online for now due to Covid-19, but only time will tell what happens when students return to the campus.
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