View From My Window : School Girl

If not thought through, something seemingly harmless, even right, might be the very beginning of something wrong for the future.

What do you see in this photo?

I see a school girl, a young school girl, slowly being burdened in the guise of a school uniform. The first of many burdens, I should add. I see a school girl dressed a certain way to hide the society's impotence, it's inability in ensuring that she remains safe irrespective of her attire. I see a school girl draped in mekhela on account of her body changing naturally. I see a girl being made to believe that nothing untoward would happen to her if she's covered from head to toe. Of course, we all know that is not true.

But what do you see?

My mom wore a saree to school 8th standard onwards. That was the rule in every school back then. I think. At least, where my mom grew up. I'm talking about the 70s here. A girl being asked to transition from wearing a skirt to a saree as she grew visibly was perhaps not scrutinized under a lens back then. Right or wrong, I don't know.

When it was my turn to go to school, there was nothing like this, though. No such rule. At least in the few schools in Shillong. This is about the 90s and very early 2000s that I'm talking about. 

I never had to switch to a saree or a salwar suit just because I hit puberty or had a growth spurt. I was just another student. I wasn't specifically made to feel that I needed to suddenly dress a different way on account of my biology. 

And maybe because of that, today, I find dressing young school going girls in saree, well how do I put it? Not quite right, perhaps.

Before you draw any conclusions, I must add that I have nothing against the saree. And also, I don't think dressing children in saree when they go to school has anything to do with our culture. Thus, I'm not questioning that either.

I just want the school girl to be a school girl. She should be uninhabited and unshackled. Certainly not be made to believe that how she is perceived depends on her attire.

I never had to switch to a saree or a salwar suit just because I hit puberty or had a growth spurt. Tweet this.

Why dress her different all of a sudden?

What gets my goat is this unfair perception and implementation. The sad reality that this is being done to prevent untoward incidents with girls. Or, to put it blatantly, to not entice boys or men. Yes, there's where my whole problem with it lies. It is a primitive thought process which seems to be pro-perpetrator more than anything else. Shielding those who might do wrong instead of who might be wronged. Instead of teaching boys and men to keep their libido in check, we, in the guise of culture, are placing the onus on girls. Very, very young girls, I should add. And I hate that. Don't you?

A school girl is so impressionable, so delicate that we need to be very, very careful with the message we send her. And why only a girl? What message are we sending to those boys who are her classmates? They are equally young and impressionable, aren't they?

Are we telling those young boys that the girls have something that needs to be hidden? And if not hidden, there's something wrong? That the girl is, for lack of a better phrase, asking for it? Are we saying that standards for judging a boy and a girl are different right from the start?

God, I hope not.

Something is not quite right with this approach. It sends out the wrong message with severe repercussions for the future. Very severe indeed.

What do you think?


Linking to #MondayMusings at Everydaygyaan

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