IUM female students told not to wear revealing clothing

FASHION POLICE … A notice by the International University of Management urging female students to dress modestly. Photo: Contributed

…youth representatives say women/girls should be allowed to express themselves freely

The International University of Management (IUM) main campus in Windhoek has advised women students to dress “decently” and refrain from wearing crop tops, shorts, revealing tops and miniskirts.

A notice was recently issued with photos of “inappropriate” outfits.

IUM spokesperson Eveline Indongo this week said: “We have observed with great concern that some students are attending classes dressed extremely inappropriately, which prompted the SRC leadership to release that notice.

“Our security is there to strictly maintain regulation and order. As such, anyone claiming to have been harassed are those who do not want to adhere to the set rules and regulations.”

Indongo said the IUM’s dress code is usually communicated during orientation at the beginning of February.

She advised students who experience harassment to visit the students’ representative council (SRC) office for assistance.
In response to the notice, some students have claimed on social media they are harassed by security guards – even when dressed appropriately.

IUM SRC president Loide Nghuulondo said the notice was issued two weeks ago by the dean’s office.

“. . . to our understanding, the policy was not implemented to promote discrimination or harassment of any sort, but instead to align with the codes of conduct of the professions they are studying for – especially for students doing education, nursing and management courses,” she said.

Nghuulondo said the university has received various complaints regarding students’ dress code during various internships, hence it opted to take measures to protect students’ reputation at various workplaces and their education.

She said the SRC was opposed to any form of harassment and discrimination of students as a result of the policy.

“We also ask that students are engaged before such rules are enforced so that we know how best to respond to their queries and that the policy applies to both genders and not just females,” Nghuulondo said.

“The dignity of our students should be protected, and if it means [reconssidering] this rule, the council will take it up with the necessary departments,” she said.

Some students have complained about tensions arising with security guards who must determine if they are dressed appropriately or not.

Nghuulondo said a general students’ assembly meeting will be held at campus.

Speaking on behalf of the Students Union of Namibia, president Benhard Kavau condemned sexual harassment.

Kavau called for students who experience harassment by security personnel to come forward, so the issue could be addressed amicably.

“It’s unacceptable,” he said.

“The union will not allow any form of gender-based violence, and we believe those are the core values of the IUM and any other institution of higher learning.”

Kavau emphasised the need for students to feel safe in their educational environment and stressed that lecturers should lead by example.

Meanwhile, Landless People’s Movement youth leader Dominga Ndala said the IUM’s notice is dehumanising and objectifies women.

“We live in a democratic era. Women should have the freedom to express themselves without being confined to societal standards.

“It’s disheartening that while women are expected to adhere to these standards, society often fails to adequately protect them from sexual assault, GBV and harassment.”

Swapo Party Youth League secretary for education Christoph Sikosi asked whether women students were consulted on the notice.

“I wouldn’t advise for inappropriate dressing style, but every party involved should understand the rationale behind every decision.”

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