THE ST Alphonsa Public school in Kerala, India, is in the spotlight for making its female students don a uniform some are calling “vulgar” and “inappropriate” in design.
The outrage first started when photographer Zachariah Ponkunnam posted an image on Facebook of three girls, with their faces blurred, wearing the uniform. The ensemble, a short-sleeved and collared blue-and-pink checkered dress, includes a ribbon around the waist and a stitched-on vest on the bodice.
In his posting, Zachariah alleged the uniform was designed obscenely, The News Minute reported. The image and comment immediately gained the attention of Indian netizens, with more than 5,000 people sharing it.
Memes were also generated, with some commenters agreeing with Zachariah’s evaluation and others responding to the naysayers by telling them to stop objectifying the bodies of minors. Some called for action against the school and demanded that the photographer remove the posting.
It is believed the alleged “inappropriateness” of the uniform is not the length of the dress, which appears to fall well below the knee, but its apparent similarity to the “Mulakkacha”, described by the Deccan Chronicle as a piece of cloth used to cover the breast in olden times.
School authorities responded by filing a complaint to the police claiming the photograph had been doctored.
“I have given a complaint to the police. Our design is different from the one seen on the said photograph. This photo has been uploaded purposefully,” school principal Sr Rosily said, according to Times of India.
Parents-Teacher Association president Sabu Cyriac also insisted there was nothing wrong with the uniform.
“No parent or student complained about it. We chose the design from a booklet that illustrated various types of uniforms.
“The school purchased the cloth and stitched the uniform for its students. Obscenity is in the eyes of the beholder,” he was quoted saying in the daily.
However, because there is so much unwanted attention on the uniform, the PTA said it will meet with parents on Monday to decide whether there should be a re-design.
“If parents find it vulgar, we have the option of introducing an overcoat. It will be huge financial burden for parents if the uniform is changed again,” Sabu said.