HARIPUR: The district education office has made it mandatory for all girl students of government schools in Haripur to wear an abaya, gown or chador, drawing a mixed reaction from locals.
A circular issued earlier this week by Samina Altaf, District Education Officer, asked all principals and headmistresses of government schools to ensure that girl students wore an abaya, gown or chador.
“Instruct all students to use gown/abaya or chador to veil/conceal/cover up their-self in order to protect them from any unethical incident,” the circular said.
Repeated attempts to seek comments from the officer concerned were unsuccessful. However, one of her subordinates confirmed that the circular was genuine.
“It was necessary to protect girl students from a growing number of complaints of eve-teasing and harassment,” she said.
“A good number of girl students have developed a habit of wearing dupatta or ‘half chador’, which is not sufficient to cover their bodies,” the official added. In reply to a question, she said since providing police protection to girl students at every nook and corner was not possible, the administration had decided to make it binding upon them to observe “proper purdah for their safety”.
Commenting on the circular, Umar Farooq, a social activist and office-bearer of Rawadari Tehreek, criticised the decision. “Instead of ensuring the safety of girl students, the authorities have bound them to dress against their will,” he said.
The social activist stressed the need for effecting a gradual change in social attitudes and for educating girls and boys both to respect each other.
But Muhammad Sohail, whose daughter is a class X student, supported the move. “It will certainly help bring down complaints of harassment. The government should have made the decision much earlier,” he observed.
Naveed Khan, father of two school-going daughters, called the initiative laudable.
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2019