No designer blouses, jeans for women employees in Karnataka: State govt

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September 15, 2013

BANGALORE: Drape yourself in nine yards or cover yourself from head-to-toe is what the Karnataka government is willy-nilly telling its women employees.

September 15, 2013

BANGALORE: Drape yourself in nine yards or cover yourself from head-to-toe is what the Karnataka government is willy-nilly telling its women employees.

A September 12 circular on the subject of "provocative" clothing at the workplace proscribed jeans, designer blouses and blouses that allow cleavage peeks or are held by spaghetti straps, strings or knots. Men were barred from trotting into work in jeans and T-shirts.

The preferred sarkari threads were saree or salwar-kameez for women and shirts and trousers or kurta-pyjama for men, the circular said.

Government sources said some oldies were embarrassed by the way new and junior employees dressed to work and seniors couldn't object to what they saw as provocative since there was nothing in black and white on who should wear what. Hence the sartorial prescription for the six lakh-plus employees in the state, said Shalini Rajneesh, secretary, department of personnel and administrative reforms.

"One should appear dignified and serious at the workplace. Casual dressing does not give that impression," Rajneesh added. She said since regulating what one wears to work is a sensitive issue, the government consulted the Karnataka State Government Employees' Association and took chief minister Siddaramaiah's permission.

The government's explanation didn't cut ice with many working women. "A state government cannot lay down conditions on how and employee should come dressed to office. It should be left to the employee's discretion. If such rules are laid, then where is democracy?" asked S M Mangala, director Centre for Women's Studies, Mysore University.

In fact, informal attempts earlier to impose a dress code had been resisted by employees. "Seniors who spoke to their younger colleagues about being dressed appropriately were asked whether any restrictions existed in black and white," a government employee said.

However, the Employees' Association head said he was okay with a dress code. "This was required to bring some sanctity in workplaces. Coming to a government office in a T-shirt or jeans gives an impression of not being serious," said association president L Bhyrappa.

Rajneesh said the dress code applies to Group D employees also. It's compulsory for drivers and peons to wear the uniform provided to them.

Times View

It was bad enough when vigilante groups were trying to behave as moral police. We now have the state itself taking over that role in Karnataka. The government says it is merely trying to ensure that its staff dresses in a dignified manner. Why then has it banned sleeveless blouses? Issuing a fatwa against jeans or sleeveless blouses exhibits a mindset that smacks of conservatism and stereotyping. The state should stay out of this and allow common sense to do its job.


Courtesy: TNN

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