KOCHI: The Kerala higher education department on Friday issued a circular clarifying that every teacher in the state has the right to dress as per their choice and comfort. The circular follows the TNIE report titled ‘Forced to pick between sari and job, lecturer chooses freedom’, published on November 10.
In the report, TNIE had highlighted how a young lecturer, who got a job offer from the College of Applied Science (CAS) in Kodungallur — which comes under the Institute of Human Resources Development (IHRD) — around a month ago, was informed by the management that it was mandatory for her to wear a saree to work every day if she wanted to continue working. Offended by the imposition, especially considering the fact that male professors did not have to adhere to a dress code, the lecturer had refused the job offer.
“There is no law that mandates woman teachers to wear a saree at the workplace. The department has repeatedly issued clarifications on the matter. However, a section of teachers has complained that authorities of certain institutions are stubbornly clinging on to such outdated ideas and imposing them on the staff,” said the circular, assuring that teachers can choose to wear what they deem comfortable and appropriate for their work.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Higher Education Minister R Bindu shared the circular and said teachers have every right to dress as per their comfort in Kerala regardless of the institute where they work. The practice of imposing sari on our teachers is not conducive to Kerala’s progressive attitude, she said.
“While a teacher has several responsibilities, adhering to such outdated and obsolete ideas is not one of them. One’s choice of dressing is an entirely personal matter. No one has the right to criticise or interfere in another’s sartorial choices,” she said.
The lecturer told TNIE that after the news report came out, several woman teachers approached her with similar experiences from various institutions. “I’m grateful to the higher education minister for her timely intervention. I hope the government acts proactively to ensure that the content of the circular gets implemented. I also hope it gets more attention, so that it can help more women resist such impositions,” she said.