Diurnal diktat sets village dress code

To ensure “decency in public places”, Tokalapalli has banned nighties during the day

For the women of Tokalapalli village in Andhra Pradesh, the sun sets the dress code.

Elders of this village in Nidamarru mandal in West Godavari have banned women from wearing nighties during the day after the latter were subject to humiliating remarks when they ventured out in them. A violation of the rule could set a woman back by ₹2,000.

Village elders discussed the “issue” at length and issued a “dress code” to ensure “decency in public places”.

The sight of nightie-clad women in hospitals, markets, schools and public places during the day was determined to be “uncomfortable”.

A resolution was passed prohibiting women from wearing nighties from dawn to dusk.

And the women of Tokalapalli have not protested.

“We took this decision about six months ago and we have not faced any objections so far. In fact, most women welcomed our decision,” Bale Seetharamudu, chief member of the caste panchayat, the kula pedda, told The Hindu over telephone.

“There has been no incident requiring a fine so far as all of them [the women] have fallen in line voluntarily. Setting up a fine amount is a regular practice when we form any new rule through the caste panchayat in the villages surrounding Kolleru lake,” Mr. Seetharamudu explained.

Most residents of Tokalapalli belong to the Vaddi caste, and eke out a living by fishing, stone cutting and as farm labourers. The nine-member Vaddi panchayat is elected annually by them.

“There is nothing wrong in the panchayat’s decision and we are following it voluntarily. In fact, women faced humiliation when they wore nighties during the day,” said G. Mahalakshmi, former sarpanch of the village panchayat.

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