February 28th, 2021
Female students and teachers of Hazara University in Mansehra and Bacha Khan University in Charsadda have been barred from wearing jeans and T-shirts per a new dress code which will be instituted in all universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in phases.
The dress code mandates that female students and faculty wear abayas and plain shalwar kameez, or plain shawls or scarves that cover the head. Women also cannot tie their hair in ponytails, wear earrings, makeup, bangles and bracelets, and cannot carry large purses.
The governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who is chancellor of all public-sector universities in the province, in his directives to the universities ordered mandatory compliance of the dress code for students, Dr Muhammad Abrar, Registrar of Islamia College, Peshawar, told Voicepk.net. Praising it as a good ininiative, Dr Abrar said the dress code was not limited to students but included teachers and staff. “In his briefing to universities, Kamran Bangash, KP government spokesperson, emphasized upon dress code for faculty members and other university staff,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government defended the policy, stating that it will ensure simplicity and equal educational opportunities for student from low-income backgrounds who otherwise may feel inferior. However, a majority of student themselves are not happy with this decision. “Why is the government is forcing a dress code on us?” a female student questioned the logic behind the decision, adding that instead students should have been made allowed to dress as per convenience following societal norms. “A dress code has no bearing on education and students should wear whatever dress they are comfortable in,” said another female student. The government should end intrusion into the lives of the student, a male student, adding that the decision was tantamount to invasion of privacy.
Some female students however held the new dress code in high regard as it was in accordance with Shariah. “The dress code was necessary given the rise in cases of harassment in universities and its proper that girls cover themselves properly,” a female student said. Another fellow student opined that the dress code in line with the cultural, adding that students should follow the dress otherwise they knew of the dangers of not doing so.
According to the KP government spokesperson, all universities in the province are required to stipulate their own dress code, however the code must not deviate from the policy targets issued by the government.