Saudi Arabia in the making – Teacher suspended for not wearing a purdah and Green over coat

published on October 22, 2012

Kerala teacher defies dress diktat, moves rights panel

Preetu Venugopalan Nair & T P Nijish, TNN

 KOCHI: A Muslim teacher of a government-aided school, suspended for not following the management diktat to cover herself with either a purdah or with a green-coloured overcoat, has approached State Human Rights Commission for justice.

“The school management insisted that I wear a green coat and issued a showcause notice asking me to give reasons for not wearing light green-coloured coat or purdah introduced for teachers. Though not happy I decided I would wear my doctor son’s white overcoat instead of green to school,” Jameela K, mathematics teacher at Sullamussalam Oriental High School in Malappuram in northern Kerala, who was suspended on October 20.

Jameela said the dress code was forcibly introduced at the beginning of the academic year and it hurt the sentiments of several female teachers who saw it as an affront considering that they always used to come to school decently dressed. “If the idea behind introducing the overcoat was to protect teachers from students’ prying eyes, why should I be suspended because I didn’t wear a green overcoat,” asked Jameela.

Her suspension order says she has been placed under suspension for 15 days for “grave charges of indiscipline and disobedience”. The school management claimed that Jameela was not suspended for violating the dress code. “We took disciplinary action against her as she raised baseless allegations against us,” said school management committee member P Sakkariya.

The State Human Rights commission has asked deputy director of Education, Malappuram, to submit an inquiry report. “Prima facie, the school management’s move is a clear violation of human rights as each and every individual has the right to decide what to wear. The decision to introduce greet uniform coat would only lead to further communal divide among people in the state’, said SHRC member K E Gangadharan.

School headmistress Najma N V said, “The controversy was uncalled for as we had introduced asparagus colour overcoats and not green. It was unanimously decided by the staff and teachers and is not done to appease any political party.”

But Najma in a letter to Jameela on August 13 had clearly stated, “As per the directions of the manager, I have been asked to serve a showcause notice to those who are not wearing the uniform coat (light green in colour) or black purdah introduced by the school.”

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