One Teen’s Perspective On India’s Dress Code
In August, the Tourism Minister of India told foreign visitors to avoid wearing skirts and to not go outside after dark. When questioned, he said that the rule was just for the safety of women who come to visit, because the culture of India is so different. But does this dress code actually indicate that we've failed to defeat crimes and can’t take steps to avoid them other than compromising? Maybe he’s right, but that doesn’t mean that things here are different in every way possible. India believes that guests are God’s and they should be treated equally, even better. This new dress code suggests otherwise. A minister's words are rarely opposed in our culture—but in this case, it's good that they are.
India is diverse, and everywhere is different—every state and every city. How we dress directly depends on our background. In the countryside, they dress unlike people in the cities. I come from a family that has moved across India, so I've seen all kinds of cultures. Here in Hyderabad, I don't feel that it matters drastically what I'm wearing. But where I'm originally from, it does matter
Regardless, we can’t ignore the fact that—as usual—it's the women doing the compromising. If the crime rates are high, it should be a responsibility of the government to reduce them, just as they see it as our responsibility to avoid acting out against the cultures. Why is it that women have to compromise, instead of those headless chickens who are the reason behind it all? Why isn't there a more strict and punishable way to act against these crimes? And why is it that even in cases like these—cases that are sensitive and affect an entire nation—the targets and victims have to be the ones to accommodate?
I’m not only talking about India's response to this issue. It's a thing that people worldwide are aware of. But it isn’t right. If we say that women should dress properly and behave, then are we really just saying those men should go and assault someone else and leave us alone? Because maybe there's a girl in the shadows; maybe there's a girl with no friends; maybe there's a girl with a past incident that still haunts her. I hear her. I listen to her silent screams about the society she lives in. That silent girl who wants to be extraordinary but the country just judges her wrong.
No matter how many articles are written, no matter how many speeches are given, no matter how many books are published, and no matter how truly disgusted women may feel, some citizens of the world are going to stay hopeful that things will change, while their neighbors are going to feel hopeless.
This issue creates a captivating start of a spark in many people; the impact it has will hopefully be something even bigger.
By Sadhvi Dash, 15