Uncomfortable for girls to wear overcoat: Vaithilingam

The Puducherry Government’s decision to introduce a change in dress code, separate buses for boys and girls and the banning of mobile phones has drawn flak from various political parties in the Union Territory.

Most of the parties feel that the move is unnecessary and will not prevent any kind of sexual harassment or violence against women.

Leader of the Opposition V. Vaithilingam termed the decision “absurd” and said that it would be extremely uncomfortable for girls to wear an overcoat over school uniform.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) local unit secretary V. Perumal said that a decision to ban mobile phones and make women wear overcoats was a violation of the rights of students and would not help the issue at hand. At present, there is very little education on violence against women and why it is bad.

There was also nothing in the curriculum that promoted a healthy relationship between boys and girls. It was steps like this that would improve the situation.

Rather than separating boys and girls, it was more important to introduce coeducation system in schools. It was well known that women of all ages and all races, regardless of their dressing code, were subject to sexual harassment. Instead of trying to change the mindset of students, the government was making the situation worse, Mr. Perumal said.

Former MLA, member of VCK and social activist K. Ravikumar vociferously opposed the move . “VCK opposes the move vehemently as this is just another way of blaming the victim,” he said. At a time when academics and psychologists are encouraging more interaction between boys and girls as a way of reducing violence, the government has taken a decision to separate them. Further, there are no dress code changes or steps to sensitise boys to the evils of gender violence, which is a move that is extremely necessary.

The government has not taken this step out of any kind of ideology, but out of “ignorance.”

By expressing vehement opposition right from the start, it is possible to stop the Government from implementing these steps, Mr. Ravikumar said.

Puducherry unit secretary of the AIADMK A. Anbalagan said that the government was not taking any firm step to deal with the rape of the 17-year-old girl, but come up with such suggestions.

He urged the government to take action on the lines of the 13-point plan released by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

He also said that the Goondas Act should be considered to deal with rapists.

The Student’s Federation of India has adopted a resolution against the Puducherry Government’s decision in their Tamil Nadu Women’s Sub-committee conference being held at Thiruvarur, a member of SFI told The Hindu .

Women are being victimised in the name of taking a precautionary measure, which is extremely wrong. The committee is planning a protest on Monday.

AIDWA general secretary of Tamil Nadu P. Suganthi said that unfortunately there were several schools across Tamil Nadu that had implemented the change in dress code, which was a severe restriction. The separation of buses could possibly allow the free movement of women, however to separate boys and girls at a young age might be counter-productive.