'Corporates Don't Hire Burqa-Wearing Women': Chembur College Justifies Hijab Ban

'Corporates Don't Hire Burqa-Wearing Women': Chembur College Justifies Hijab Ban

The directive has faced stiff opposition from female Muslim students at the college, who believe that the dress code is discriminatory and violates their personal liberty and religious freedom.

Musab QaziUpdated: Friday, May 17, 2024, 02:26 AM IST
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The management of Acharya Marathe College in Chembur has defended barring hijab and burqa on campus, claiming that the diktat is aimed at improving campus placements and instilling 'etiquette' among students.

"It's a question of students' future. We want to increase college placements. If the students go to seek jobs in burqa, will they be considered? Students should be imbibed with values and etiquette - how to live and behave in society, " Subodh Acharya, the general secretary of the college's governing council and a Shiv Sena (UBT) leader told FPJ.

When asked why the college felt the need to ban the religious attire when there are no such restrictions at other degree colleges in the city, Acharya replied, "Our students are from poor family backgrounds. I want them to have a standing in the society."

The remarks come a day after FPJ reported that the college has put in place a 'dress code' for its undergraduate students that, among other things, bans 'revealing' dresses and objects of clothing with religious significance, specifically mentioning hijab, niqab and burqa - the customary headscarf, face covering and full-body veil donned by Muslim women. The institute had put a similar prohibition on hijab last year at its junior college (senior secondary) section after introducing a uniform.

The directive has faced stiff opposition from female Muslim students at the college, who believe that the dress code is discriminatory and violates their personal liberty and religious freedom. Earlier this week, a group of students met with the college principal and submitted a letter urging the institute to reconsider its decision. They have also filed a complaint with the state and national human rights commission. One of the students also served a legal notice to the college.The college had witnessed similar resistance from hijab-wearing girls in junior college, who were prohibited from entering the institute's premises. Several students had ended up leaving the institute.Acharya, however, said that the issue shouldn't be given 'religious colour', asserting that its uniform policy was received favourably. "We still have students coming to the college. In fact, many parents met me and thanked for the decision," he said.

He also termed the students' insistence on wearing hijab a form of 'extremism'. "Do you want a teacher to identify a student's religion by their clothes?" he said, adding, "How far will you carry the idea of diversity? How long will you continue with this Manuwad? It's an extremist thinking. I am against it."

Activists have slammed Acharya for his 'communal' and 'classist' remarks. "The reasons given for the hijab ban are utterly baseless. For one, not all the girls want to participate in the placements. Many of them want to start their own enterprise. Many women work while wearing religious attire. It seems that they are trying to manufacture some justification around the notion of 'morality' to continue with their decision," said Ateeque Ahmed Khan, a teacher who had accompanied the protesting students during their meeting with the principal.

Saif Alam, counsel to an aggrieved student, said, "The students have a right to practice their religion. Why does the college think that it needs to impose a dress code if students are from poor families? It's a classist mentality. Maharashtra had reformers like Fatima Shaikh and Savitribai Phule, who educated and fought for women's education. These cowardly steps by the college have put all of us to shame." 

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