"2 inches below the knees."
"The length of your pinafore should be at least 2 inches below your knees."
"You'd better lengthen it when you reach home. If Sister Marie sees you, she'd have a fit."
Yvette grinned. She was new to the school and her aquamarine-coloured pinafore was way above her knees. I was a school prefect and it was my duty to inform her that we were very strict about the students' dressing.
The Malaysian girls' school uniform have been the same ever since I could remember. I had looked at my mother's school photo back in the 50s and there she was, clad in the blue pinafore with white cotton blouse underneath it. I looked at mine back in the 80s and it was just the same - the same fashion (if you can even term the boring uniform as fashionable), the same colour, and the same material.
So what's the hu-ha about the white school blouse raised by the National Islamic Students Association of Malaysia? (http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/5/22/nation/21326822&sec=nation)
Ohh... I forgot.
The white cotton baju kurung with the blue kain started to appear as a standard school uniform in the mid 1980s. I don't know who started the trend. I still remember the surprise I had when suddenly my Malay girl friends who used to run about with me in knee-length uniforms suddenly dorn the strange baju kurung in school. Of course, we accepted the cotton white baju kurung top and blue kain as we accepted everything else. No question asked. It's the Malay parents who want their girls to wear the white cotton baju kurung top with blue kain.
Why wasn't there any objection in those days?
For decades, Malaysian girls have been wearing the same type of uniform - white blouse and blue pinafore - to schools. We didn't hear about rapes and children born out of wedlock in those days.
For more than twenty years, the Muslim girls have been wearing the baju kurung to school without any problem.
Then the white cotton tudung complete the outlook and Muslim students have begun to cover their aurat, which is after all, a good thing to do.
For more than twenty years, no Muslim mufti or ulama in Malaysia have raised the issue of the school uniform as being 'sexy' and ' a tool to lure men'.
Do we need an association (Gosh, who are they anyway?) to instruct us on how students should dress in schools?
I am a teacher.
I know that no girls in their right mind will wear the white blouse or baju kurung top without a camisole, and no decent female teacher or mother will allow the girls to walk about in school with a bright-coloured brassiere underneath the white top. The same goes for white cotton blouses worn by prefects, school librarians and sixth-formers. In schools we teach about decency and respect. We remind students, both male and female, to respect those of the opposite gender. We nag and give demerit marks to those girls to stubborn to follow the school rules.
Of course there are some students who prefer to wear the white top made of syntactic material, which they claim is cooler. That's fine. Still they need to wear the camisole if they put on a skirt instead of the pinafore.
For the group to condemn the white blouse as part of the school uniform as a 'tool to lure men' is rather baseless. I wonder how many of the 'holier-than-thou' men in the group spent their time observing the school girls in blouses to be able to come up with such an idea. Why claim that the white blouse as part of the school uniform "invites rapes and pre-marital sex" and "causes distraction to men"? Perhaps the men in the group need to go for more Islamic lessons to prevent their minds to be distracted by the girls in white blouses, because I have yet to hear my male colleagues who see the students every school day to be distracted from their teaching in the classrooms!
Frankly speaking, I'd prefer Muslim girls to wear the long-sleeved white blouses and long blue skirts with a bolero/jacket on top of the blouse (can't distract the men when the colour of the brassiere is hidden) than the traditional white baju kurung. If all Muslim girls wear the former attire, this issue of changing the school uniform would have never seen the light of day. Of course, the traditionalists will probably come after me because wearing the Malay traditional baju kurung is "better" than the western-styled uniforms?
The group claims that they want to safeguard the modesty of Muslim female students. Heck, do they honestly think that the sexy ones will let a darker coloured or thicker blouse prevent them from 'trying to lure their targeted men'? Don't they realise that the baju kurung of any colour or thickness is actually a sexy-looking garment itself, drawing attention to the shape of the wearer's chest clearly without the cover of a tudung?
By the way, don't even think about forcing non-Muslim female students to wear the baju kurung daily as a 'safer option' (it isn't really) because that'd infringe upon their rights, and will just make them learn to hate Islam.
School students, given a choice, would rather not wear the school uniform. It's boring. It restricts their freedom of choice. Yet the school uniform has its benefits. It's used to ensure that all students, irrespective of race, and economic background are treated the same in schools. It gives students a sense of identity. It helps poor students to feel more at home in schools.
So, rather than condemn the white blouse, which are usually worn only by sixth-formers (students in other forms wear the blouses underneath the pinafore), it'd be better to teach the public to respect and protect their girls. It might be better for the group to insist that all Muslim female students wear the tudung, ignoring protests from urban Malay liberalists if it really wants to uphold the teachings of Islam. Also all Muslim men should also bear in mind that they too, have to guard their own aurat by lowering their gaze in front of non-muhrim women and girls. InsyaAllah if all Muslim men learn to do this, there won't be many rape cases happening in our society, white school blouses/baju kurung top or not.
image 3& 4: http://tacsin.com/p_school8.jpg