The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government on Monday ordered female students to ‘cover up’ to protect them from any “unethical incident” from taking place at government schools throughout the province.
Provincial Adviser on Education Ziaullah Bangash said the step was taken to stop female students from being harassed on their way to school.
Bangash said the directive would guarantee the safety of schoolgirls, adding that, “Donning a pardah has now been declared mandatory.”
Earlier, Peshawar District Education Officer Samina Ghani issued a notification in this regard, directing schools to instruct all girl students of middle, high and higher secondary schools to wear a chadar, abaya or gown to protect them from any “unethical incident”.
The move came a day after Haripur District Education Officer Samina Altaf had issued a similar notification.
Altaf’s notice had given schools and colleges a week to implement the new rules.
The DEO told The Express Tribune that the decision was taken in light of Islamic principles.
Social media uproar
The decision drew backlash on Twitter as social media users slammed the government over the new directives.
Journalist Benazir Shah hit out at authorities, saying: “In Naya Pakistan, the problem is with schoolgirls, not the men who harass and assault young girls.”
Female rights activist Tooba Syed also seconded her view, deeming the notification a clear message from the government that women are solely to blame for being harassed.
However, certain quarters lauded the move as journalist Ansar Abbasi appreciated the government for issuing a dress code.
He claimed that “liberals” would now try to force authorities to rollback the order despite it being in line with Islam and Pakistan’s constitution.”