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Undressing the "Dress Code" Mobsters of India

 

ADITYA RAJ KAUL | New Delhi, July 21, 2012 15:19
Tags : GUWAHATI GIRL MOLESTATION | DRESS CODE | dress code diktat on tourists | western clothes |
 

Why should a skirt or a sleeveless top wearing girl invite rape in India? Following uproar over the Guwahati molestation case, the Chairman of the National Commission for Woman (NCW) in India had a word of caution for the women in general across the country, "Be comfortable, but at the same time, be careful about how you dress... Aping the West blindly is eroding our culture and causing such crimes to happen." Has Mamta Sharma pioneered a research which proves this 'blame west theory'? After all, how long will we continue to live in denial about the growing crime against women in India?

Supporting Mamta Sharma, not so strangely, is a voice from the opposition BJP. Madhya Pradesh Industries Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya told reporters that, "Women should dress in such a way that they invoke respect in others. However, unfortunately women are dressing provocatively, which is leading to deviation in society.”

How does one dress to invoke respect? Probably, to my understanding by dressing elegantly. Or, do we have to seek permission from a group of self-appointed cultural policemen who in reality are the “Dress Code” Mobsters of India, inviting wrath of both liberal as well as learned and not so liberal citizens of India.

We are slowly walking backwards towards a mentality governed by a passion of defending the wrong in the name of culture. Every thirty minutes there is an attempt to rape in India. How can we just brush this off by saying it's happening because of the West?

There are others who want to shut the doors completely to the West. “How can we give up the divine values for the sake of economy?”, asks Advocate Zahid Ali of Jama’at-e-Islami, an organisation which was recently in news for banning foreign tourists from wearing “shorter miniskirts” and other so called objectionable dresses since according to them it doesn't go well with the local sensibilities.

Tourists sure should care for the local traditions and sensibilities. But, in which democratic and progressive society do we encourage a diktat on visiting tourists from all over the globe?

Did these divine values encourage 25-year-old Imtiyaz Ahmad Bhat from Shopian district in Kashmir to rape a 13-year-old mentally and physically challenged local girl? It was the third rape incident in a month in the Kashmir valley. Why don't the guardians of divine values who talk of “cultural aggression” protest against the mentality of molestation and rape? Or, is it too hard to consider a woman equal or raise a stone for their rights?



“Tourism encouraging vulgarity, alcoholism, and drug-trafficking cannot be acceptable to the people of this Muslim majority state”, separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani told The Sunday Indian in Kashmir. Does that mean alcohol isn't consumed at all in Kashmir? That isn't the reality. Kashmir remains one of the biggest consumers of liquor in India. Sadly, drug addiction is another cause of worry apart from the already tense environs of the state.

An illusion about the cause of rape unfortunately has always been the liberally dressed girls. Why can't these commentators see the mental imbalance and the sickening action of a rapist?

Few years ago, I asked my girlfriend not to wear clothes as liberally as she wished before we left for an event. It wasn't a warning or a display of insecurity but a word of caution because of the fear of the mob that may end up groping her at a public place. We ended up in an argument.

It was only later that I realised how wrong my approach was, bending against a mindset which forces us to remain chained in thoughts, and in practical life. The guilt has remained since and it would only be appropriate to apologise now for being blinded in mindless provocation.

A parting note for introspection – Under which dress code do our Naga Sadhus fall?

 
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
 
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Posted By: Asha Kachru | Andhra pradesh | July 22nd 2012 | 17:07
Don't know what happened to my earlier comment? This dress code thing is just one of those patriarchal tools to keep women under their control. Some religions support it more than others, but women are no more fools to waste their time and energies listening to all these of the conservative men.
Posted By: Udita Goswami | Mumbai | July 22nd 2012 | 12:07
Dear Mr. Kaul, I just want to ask you a few questions ... What has progression to do with nudity ... do you think Aadivaasis in India who wear almost nothing belong to a progressive society and nuns who cover their entire body are not progressive? Or maybe prostitutes walking on the streets with a one piece jazzy dresses which reveal almost every part of their body are progressive but people in Saudi Arabia are not progressive? My other question to you is that what do you think could be the real cause of rape? Do you think it's a conspiracy by Kashmiri Muslims which is being supported by Jamat-e-Islami and other Islamic groups in India? Or you think it's a political conspiracy? And my last question to you - How do you think it can be stopped? I really admire your views about certain issues but I really got confused with what you are actually trying to say in your article? And one thought - you didn't stop your girlfriend because of the fear of mob attacking her but because you thought that it was indecent. You live in Delhi my friend and I have never heard of an incident in Delhi where a girl has been attacked by a mob for wearing a certain kind of dress. So how come that fear? Just becaus you have to write an article and make it sound really good, don't just write whatever you feel like. I'm sure you know exactly why do we have women selling all the products because they attract. Progression doesn't come from Nudity but with a mindset and I think your mindset is so blocked with just one thought and you actually don't think beyond that. Just open up, become progressive my friend and if you think nudity is the way forward.
Posted By: Aditi Malhotra | New Delhi | July 22nd 2012 | 00:07
Aditya, glad to have a man discuss the issue of 'dress code'. While I quite agree with you, I just have a few things to add. First, your concern for 'cultural aggression' can be extended to the fact that world over, it is the women who are (made to be) carriers of culture. All cultural symbols, rituals, behaviours are to be best represented by the woman! Which means thereby culture is the first excuse used to curb their freedom, rights and as seen in the recent Guwahati case, their mobility. Second, while with absolutely 'cautionary feelings' what you did with your advice to your girlfriend was to express a 'protectionist' attitude. Such an attitude at one level can only direct its actions towards protecting the victim/survivor than target the system (of patriarchy, of discrimination, of inequality). This is also reflected when instead of making roads safer for women, our govt's. would rather not employ women at night shifts. This may take away women from certain professions which demand work at night times. For instance the Labour Commissioner comment after the rape of the girl working at Sahara Mall- that women should remain at home post 8 pm was marker of such an approach. I am not saying don't protect, but the more important thing to do is to prevent.
Posted By: Asha Kachru | Medak dst, A.P. | July 21st 2012 | 22:07
Aditya's article on undressing the dresscode mobsters of India is very apt at this time when we hear of the increasing crimes against women not only in Delhi, in India, but also in a place like Kashmir where we did not have such crimes earlier. It is most unfortunte that the NCW as well as the Opposition party offer advices such as to warn the women to adopt a decent dress code instead of going into the root causes of existence/increase of such crimes against women. I am also sure that there are many women who believe in such codes themselves too, particularly because they are dictated by some based on religious or tradition but let the people know that not only Aditya's friend but millions others in India, women and men, will not accept such aeguments. Indian women are intelligent enough to be aware of what they need to wear and what not.
Posted By: Pradyumna | Tumkur | July 21st 2012 | 22:07
You don't allow any moral education in schools, teach the kids to freely do whatever they want; you allow them to 'experiment' with alcohol, drugs and what not. Then you expect them to behave divine? You are wrong. You should learn psychology. You should know that a person needs samskar everyday. And that you cannot get from today's TV, newspaper or Internet. Your parents are not cultured nor your teachers. Do not talk crap. When daughters get raped, only then fathers like you might realize. Instead of blaming every thing on so-called 'moral police', try to imbibe culture in the people. Weak argument. Hope your girlfriend did not end of getting molested?




Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017