A young girl in a salwar kameez, not yet out of her teens, stands before a group of peers and denounces jeans and other western wear as provocative. Others join in, explaining how wearing such clothes is an invitation to lewd comments from boys. In UP's Muzaffarnagar, the Khaps seem to have had their way.
These young girls were speaking at meetings organised recently to convince other girls in this area to follow the Taliban-like diktats and dress codes that village elders, all men, have imposed. So these evangelists narrated personal experiences of how they had "invited" misbehaviour from men by wearing "tight jeans."
One even argued, "If Sonia Gandhi can come from Italy and wear Indian clothing, why should we Indian girls not do that.
The Khap leaders, universally criticised for imposing regressive diktats that fetter women, seem to have done a thorough of convincing these young spokespersons. "So many rapes happening nowadays, girls are teased only because they wear such clothes," said one. Another said, "We have all decided that why me, no girl in the village will wear jeans." Their tones were as firm as the manner in which their dupattas were drawn across their shoulders.
Surrounding the girls, who sat on the ground, the village men sat on plastic chairs and nodded approvingly. The Khap panchayats have also said no to use of mobile phones by women. These allegedly promote love affairs.
These girls are happy to support that diktat too. "What use is a mobile phone. We shall use them when we have to travel outside," said one.
Story first published:
July 18, 2012 10:53 IST