STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu
‘Ban in Christian institutions applicable only on campuses’
Defending the ban imposed by several missionary-run educational institutions in Karnataka on wearing the burkha on campus, Sr. M. Genevieve, secretary of the Karnataka Regional Commission for Education (KRCE), has said that the garment is “often misused by girl students”.
“They use it for copying in exams,” Sr. Genevieve said, while gesturing with her hands that girl students hide scraps of paper in the folds of the Islamic outfit.
She was responding to a question about the burkha ban at a press conference here on Friday called to announce a daylong seminar on “combating saffronisation of education and suppression of subaltern voices”. The seminar, scheduled for Saturday, is being organised by the KRCE, which manages 105 Catholic societies and 1,200 Catholic educational institutions.
‘OTHER RELIGIONS TOO’
Sr. Genevieve claimed that not just Muslims, but girls of other religions too have started wearing the burkha as a sort of cover for “immoral activities”. “Other girls have also started wearing [the burkha] to go out with their boyfriends,” she said.
When it was pointed out that saffron groups too have tried to impose a ban on the garment, particularly in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, she said that the ban in Christian missionary institutions was applicable only on the campus.
“In a girls’ college like Mount Carmel College, what is the need to wear the burkha? There are hardly one or two men there,” said Sr. Genevieve, a former principal of the girls’ college.
The banning of the burkha at the St. Aloysius College in Mangalore had created a huge controversy in April last year after it was reported widely in the print and electronic media.
The case of commerce student Aysha Ashmin made national headlines in August 2009 after the Sri Venkataramana Swamy Government-aided Degree College in Bantwal, Dakshina Kannada, banned her from wearing the burkha under pressure from activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).