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Longer uniforms not protecting our girls

Monday, September 10, 2018

Dear Editor,

As our students return to school, again there are familiar stories of students and parents having challenges with uniforms. This year, however, there has been fuss about the lengths of the uniforms that are required for schoolgirls.

We must take serious stock of the messages we are sending to our children and the wider society, including those who sexually prey on our children, every time we decide to make uniforms longer instead of standing up against the culture of gender-based violence, sexual abuse and assault.

Seeing our girls in ankle-length uniforms should not be of comfort but rather alarm us, as it suggests that these uniforms offer some level of protection from deviant behaviour.

Our school administrators and all who support these lengthy uniforms are either misguided or naive enough to think that a few extra pieces of cloth will prevent our girls from attacks.

Will we add another few inches next year? Will we be seeing wedding gown-length uniforms entering school gates?

Unfortunately, even in countries where women “dress modestly” by wearing full-body outfits, sexual assault and rape are still common.

If the intention is to protect girls, as their bodies develop, from being noticed and propositioned by their male peers and older predators, the solution is not to make uniforms longer. Rather, we should seek to change attitudes and the culture of entitlement among males.

Let us return to the true purpose of uniforms, which is to give students a sense of belonging, ensure equity, and create an identity for the school in the community.

 

Mario Boothe

m.raphael.b@gmail.com