Discriminatory and Offensive Content against Women in Textbooks: Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) Strongly Protests

Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) believes that the manner in which the Home Economics textbooks have described girls of different physical structures, appropriate clothes for adolescent girls, their behavior and things that they need to do for their safety, are extremely objectionable and distasteful, which will send a discriminatory message to the students. These books were introduced by National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) for the education year 2019 for sixth as well as ninth and tenth grade students.

In the chapter on “Industrial compounds and industrial policy of clothing”, preferable dresses have been defined for bulky/healthy, short, fair or dark skinned girls. It has mentioned that loose clothes are appropriate for the girls with swollen chest and wide waist. And such wide waist can be minimised with well articulated and fitting waistline. It has also mentioned that clothes of any color will suit girls with fair complexions. On the contrary, for the girls with a dark complexion, it is wiser to avoid dark colors, and rather select light color dresses in order for them to look bright. In the eighteenth chapter titled “Dress-care and tidiness”, advices have been given on how to cover healthy or slim bodies by selecting appropriate or suitable dress colors. Besides, it has also advised girls with dark skin on how to look bright. Similarly, the Home Economics book for class six in its chapter seven titled “Changes during adolescence and protecting personal safety” has recommended adolescent girls to get rid of uneasiness or discomfort about physical changes by wearing appropriate dresses.

ASK is surprised to notice the presence of such obscene, unacceptable and prejudiced messages in the most important education materials like textbooks. We believe more attention must be given when selecting the contents of the textbook. The future generations will develop themselves and work to build up the country by reading these textbooks. But if we impart such undignified messages, towards women and human beings, it will bring disaster upon our nation. Such education is by no means appropriate in order to develop girls’ dignity. ASK urges the authority to urgently review the textbooks and remove these contents.