Modesty Isn’t About a Dress Code

Wajiha Arshad


Educating hearts before minds stand vital and indispensable as modesty lies in temperaments of the observer not in dress code of the subject. Had to revive study of psychology from bachelors to comprehend the complex debate of connection between dress code and rise in societal frustrations. “Unexpressed emotions never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways,” as said by Sigmund Freud. Rightly so, frustration being such strong emotion, if remains unexpressed, often erupts in foulest ways.

Unfortunately, we as a nation come across every second day an ill-fated event, highlighted about child abuse and harassment. Indeed, heart comes out seeing young boys and girls being abused in madrassas, workplaces, educational institutions and open in streets and markets. However, it requires more than an emotional approach to deal and understand the web of outlook which knits our society together. Literacy rate and lack of education seems the emblem of reason behind such acts, circumstances at times overtakes the blame of an incident, ignorance and dearth of awareness carries the weight of responsibility too. Whatsoever reason we come up to satisfy ourselves for these day by day cumulative acts, basis is the mentality of individual carrying out the act not the one subjected or victim to it. Victim’s dressing, behavior or any kind of physical appearance cannot, at any cost, justify the horrendous mind and heart of the aggressor.

Creator of universe the Almighty creates heart and mind within an intricate yet comprehendible set of frames. Often the improper and non-performing educational system in the country if held responsible for the terrible acts taking place. What about the harassment cases in offices? At work place considerably most educated segment of the society is involved and subject to it. Is it that we are educating the minds and not the hearts? Or we find safe escape in blaming educational system or any other institution and keep on talking about reforms? Or the grooming, upbringing, societal impressions on the growing minds are the cause behind these rising number of cases? Trying to keep it general for both genders till now as the young boys and girls – children are both equally vulnerable. It is significant while talking about the women in specific of our society are exposed and susceptible subjects.

Firstly, keeping the facts straight, it’s not only the Pakistani society in the region going through these crises. For those who believe everything they read, here’s a number to consider: 38,947. It’s the number of rape cases in India reported in 2016, sourced by the ministry of women and child development of India. The flag bearer of largest democracy in the world is clenching more deep into a conservative society more than any other in the region. According to a recent CNN Report India is considered to be the most dangerous country to be a woman (US ranks 10th in survey). India is the most unsafe country in the world to be a woman because of the high risk of sexual violence and slave labor, a new survey of experts has shown. Today, Kashmiri women are the biggest victims of Indians’ inhumane siege. No one can forget the horrific act took place on February 23, 1991, as India carried out a large military operation, where soldiers raped more than 30 women in two villages, Kunan and Poshpora, in the Kupwara district of Indian held Kashmir. The Indian Army has always denied the allegations and authorities and in addition continue to thwart attempts of the survivors to get justice till to date. Secondly, by the numbers, then in 2016, South Africa, Sweden, the US, UK and Wales top India on reported rapes. India comes fifth.

In last three years 700 reported cases occurred in Pakistan. Not something to be proudly mentioning of but instead of feeling subsided or backward as a society being the cause, we must see across the world how believably progressive and relatively more educated societies are going through similar menaces like rapes, harassment, school shootings, racial based incidents and street crimes. All reflecting the individual’s attitude more than the religious, national or ethical affiliation as the root cause. But there’s something subversive about sheltering behind numbers; they mask the sheer development of a civilized society and overshadows the brighter side of the nation.

Narrowing down the whole debate on dress code, someone who steps out for seeking education, for earning to live or for any other purpose possesses awareness to dress themselves in best suitable manner. The solution to problem does not lie in an ostrich approach towards the bigger ills of society and instead putting the burden of guilt on victims for being self-blamed and considered as the cause. Seeing and reading the examples around the world across the most developed nations to the developing ones, one comes to a conclusion of identifying the cause first! and then finding ways to eradicate. If as a society one will be confused about cause, how come the final stage of addressing and erasing the problem would come?

Well said and strongly believe – the best way-out for frustration is through pen! (I tried to do so though) And through expression of objective viewpoint while accepting the ground realities as a society rather than involving and wasting precious time in inculcating a false self-pity approach by blaming a mere dress code for a societal ill. Social crimes can not only be addressed by reforms in institutions or system, they require a grander spectrum of tactics leading from ameliorating individual mindset in the country and concentrating more on the state of mind and factors behind the factual cause of the acts.


Wajiha Arshad is PhD scholar at NDU, Islamabad, she can be reached at