A university in Pakistan is bang in the middle of a raging storm after it issued a notice instructing its male and female students to maintain a six-inch distance from each other at all times.
Pakistan-based Dawn reported that Bahria University had added the rule to its 'Dress Code Compliance' policy sheet. "All students are hereby directed to strictly abide by the dress code while in university. Instructions have been issued for the disciplinary action against the violators as per the rules. Moreover, Male and Female students are to maintain a distance of at least 6 inches while sitting standing together," read the circular issued.
The rule has been applied to all three campuses of Bahria University - one each in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
Students have not appreciated the latest diktat and have called it bizarre. "Are we supposed to carry a scale each time we come across someone from the opposite gender?" a student was quoted as asking by local news agencies.
Support for the students has now also come from teachers. The Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) has written to Bahria University asking it to withdraw the rule at a time when a spokesperson for the university has defended it saying six inches is not an absolute measurement but a rough estimation of what is required by an individual to maintain his and her personal space.
While the rule, many say, shows Pakistan in a rather conservative light, there have been similar instances across the border as well. Several universities across India have issued dress codes - especially for women students - from time to time. Prominent public figures have come on record to say men and women students need to abide by the moral code without themselved affirmatively defining the code.