Indian Association of Women’s Studies, NE Chapter expressed collective shock at the recent incident in Tezpur where a 19-year-old girl was humiliated over her attire at an exam hall and strongly condemn the act.

The young woman, who had come for the entrance test to Jorhat’s Assam Agricultural University, in a pair of shorts, was barred from the exam hall by the invigilator for her ‘inappropriate’ clothing.

Even as her father rushed out to hunt for a pair of trousers for her, she was allowed in, but only with a curtain wrapped around her legs. The need to discipline the young woman in this manner is not only outrageous, but also a mockery of propriety and decorum!

We are aware that uniforms are mandatory for most school children and are now also insisted by some colleges across the country. But a dress code in an entrance exam is unheard of. If our educational apparatuses do not adopt progressive attitudes how will the mindsets of our young generations be shaped for this global twenty-first century world?

At a time when women in India are poised to join the National Defence Academy where different modes of uniforms, including shorts, are customary and where our Himas and Lovlinas are lauded all over the world for their feats regardless of what they are wearing, why has a young woman in Assam been
subjected to such indignities?

Will patriarchal attitudes and perspectives continue to crush the dreams, hopes and liberties of our young girls and women?
On behalf of women’s organisations, and concerned men and women of the public, we extend support to the young student and wish her the best in her future without feeling hindered by such attitudes and social behaviour.

We also urge the invigilator and others who believe women should only wear what they think is acceptable and “appropriate” to introspect about their discriminatory and misogynist views.