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ISLAMABAD: The Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) has demanded the Bahria University withdraw a recently issued notification directing male and female students to maintain a distance of six inches when together.

The university issued this notification to students at all three of its campuses – in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

It was added to its ‘Dress Code Compliance’ and stated: “All students are hereby directed to strictly abide by the dress code while in university. Instructions have been issued for the disciplinary action against the violators as per the rules. Moreover, Male and Female students are to maintain a distance of at least 6 inches while sitting standing together.”

Read: View point: The two sides of coeducation

It also forbids women and men from touching each other.

University under fire after notification went viral on social media

The notification went viral on social media and was criticised after it was issued in the Karachi campus.

FAPUASA President Dr Kaleemullah Barech told Dawn on Tuesday that the notification was ridiculous and created confusion among students.

“This notification, and all such notification in other universities, should be withdrawn immediately,” he said, adding that other universities have issued such dress code notifications.

He went on to say that character-building, not such notifications, was needed.

Bahria University spokesperson Mehwish Kamran defended the notification, which she claimed was issued to maintain discipline among students.

“There is nothing wrong with it,” she said, and described the directive to maintain a 6-inch distance as a generic term and said a 6-inch distance is considered personal space.

Last year, the International Islamic University Islamabad came under fire for issuing a dress code that prohibit women from wearing sheer clothing, deep necks, sleeveless, skinny jeans, tights, capri pants, makeup, heavy jewellery and high heels.

IIUI had directed female students to wear shalwar kameez with a knee length shirt, or trousers with long shirts, and mandatory dupattas or scarves.

Tahir Malik, a lecturer at the National University of Modern Languages said such notifications were worthless, and universities should instead focus on character building.

“Maintaining a 6-inch distance is beyond my understanding; how will the university measure a 6-inch distance,” he asked, adding that the academic environment needed to be improved on university campuses.

He went on to say that anti-harassment committees needed to be formed in all universities to curtail harassment. “There was a directive from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to form anti-harassment committees, but most universities have failed to constitute them,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2018