When girls are told from LKG onwards how to tie and not to tie your hair, are we conveniently forgetting the real dangers that lurk in the world outside?

The school where my daughter goes to is really into discipline this year, and hence they concentrate on black bands and black slides. The prime issue now is whether girls divide their hair into two and put them in ponytail (remember, not as a single ponytail) or plait it into two. I remember the pictures of all the miserable little girls in their two pigtail schools. College life is therefore freedom for all those two-pigtailed-girls in Tamil Nadu.

Fortunately for me I did my schooling where not even one day I was made into a pigtail. While we were young we learned responsibility, and had the freedom to tie the hair the way we wanted. There was no gender discrimination and I never found irate parents outside the gates of the school or at home early in the morning, plaiting the girl’s hair, even if she does not get time for breakfast!

I visualised that since my daughter’s hair length was till shoulder level she could manage with slides. But now it seems the physical training instructor wants all the girls to have two ponytails — and not just one ponytail! Images of Steffi Graf with just one ponytail winning her Wimbledon matches flashed before my eyes.

What if your daughter’s hair is on the border-line with not enough hair to tie? Then, well, you have to pull with all the might you have and manage to make two separate ponies somehow, tie it and devoutly pray that they stay till evening. If you as a mother can find the time in the morning rush and the daughter succeeds in holding the trophies on her head till evening, you made it!

There are some minor issues which happen in some schools which the authorities do not notice in their run for discipline. Children (especially boys) in the KG classes start talking about ‘love’, which moves on to terms like ‘sex’ when they come to Class 4. If the right kind of information is given to children from the start they will not browse pornography sites for answers.

As children we have always approached our parents first for those vital answers, and if we failed in getting them there gone on to our friends.

Why is it that Indian schools do not have classes dealing with gender issues, where they can be taught about the A-Z of the reproduction process, sexuality, how to overcome gender discriminating thoughts and acts, and the crisis that Indian women face?

When girls are told from LKG onwards how to tie and not to tie your hair, how to sit and stand and how to conform to the existing codes, are we conveniently forgetting the real dangers that lurk in the world outside? What about the numberless girls who remembered to tie their plaits into two and walked demurely and kept their voice low and who ended their lives as rape victims?

What about the men who committed the crime? Were they as young male children brought up with so many rigid conditions? If discipline therefore lies in the way you plait your hair and the colour of your band, why not start growing the hair of all male children and then tie it into two ponytails?

Perhaps then we will be able to reduce the number of crimes against women …

reenasalil@yahoo.com

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