A government school in the southern Indian state of Kerala has sparked controversy after allowing teenage students to wear trousers. The BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi and Ashraf Padanna in Kerala, in a special report published on Wednesday, explain the recent controversy over clothing.
Sringi CK was waiting at the bus stop to go to school after her new school uniform on Wednesday. That’s when he is delighted with a compliment from an unknown woman.
Sringi is 18 years old. She is a class XI student of Government Girls High School in Baluseri, a small town in Kerala. Sringi told the BBC: “That unknown woman told me that day, it was nice to see her and I was so proud to hear her praise.”
But on that day, Sringi had to reach the school by pushing the crowd of protesters. There were dozens of police beside the protesters. From now on, female students will wear trousers and shirts just like boys. These people were protesting in front of the school that day to protest against it.
Until such a change, the students wore loose trousers and waist-length coats with a traditional Kerala dress like a long shirt.
Principal Indu R said that now that students are in the twelfth grade, last year they demanded that they should be allowed to dress like boys. The proposal was logical. So they started wearing jeans-tops like others. And for the humid weather of Kerala, waist-length coat is not suitable.
The principal further said, “After we discussed the matter among ourselves, we called a meeting of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA). After the majority agreed in that meeting, I decided to change the dress code. One or two parents express concern about their children’s clothing. We let them know that girls can wear full sleeve shirts, hijabs and long coats if they want. But only a few girls are seen wearing these clothes.
In some pictures sent to the BBC by Indur, a group of students are seen taking selfies, laughing, raising their fists and celebrating victory and happiness in their new school uniforms.
A member of the group, Sringi, told the BBC he liked the new outfit very much. Because, the dress is quite comfortable and she feels quite comfortable in it.
The BBC reports that the Kerala state government also supports the decision to change the school uniforms for girls as well as boys.
State Education Minister V Shivanakutty told the BBC: We hope other schools will take similar initiatives. According to him, such an initiative would create awareness among the students about gender inequality at an early age.
But conservative Muslim groups could not accept the decision to change clothes. They say their children are being forced to wear new clothes.
Mujahid Baluseri, a member of the Muslim Co-ordination Committee, is one of the opponents of public dress. He said the decision was taken without calling a meeting of the parents ‘teachers’ association and now girls are being forced to wear trousers and shirts like boys. This is a big burden for poor families.
Mujahid Baluseri said, “There must be different identities to separate girls and boys. Allowing girls to dress like boys means encouraging them to have free sex. It will end gender inequality and drive them towards free sex. ‘
Kerala is considered to be the most liberal and progressive state in India. Kerala is the only illiterate state in India. 47.96 percent of the total students in the schools of the state are girls. Most of these girls have studied at the university level and obtained post-graduate degrees.