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Kinnaird College Only Teaches Girls How To Be ‘Wife Material’

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My four years at Kinnaird College were bittersweet (mostly bitter, but hey there were some memorable moments too!). While my time at the all-girls college was spent well thanks to the many friends I made there, my experience with the teachers was nothing to write home about. Notwithstanding the compassion some teachers displayed towards their students, the preachy lectures of most of the teachers who taught me at Kinnaird is what haunts me to date. I will come to that later.

That Kinnaird is a ‘liberal’ institute is one of the biggest misconceptions about it. On the contrary, the rules the college enforces to moral police the students would perhaps put a religious institute to shame. Before taking admission in the college, I was told that the girls here enjoy all the ‘freedom’ in the world, which is one of the reasons people from outside are fascinated by the ‘Kinnaird life’. But after joining the college, I found out that this thought was an utter lie perhaps floated by someone who never knew what ‘freedom’ means.

At Kinnaird, I was fined multiple times for not wearing a dupatta. (Yes, penalised for not covering myself well enough at an all-girls college!) Apart from making dupatta mandatory, the college had also barred the students from wearing ‘short’ dresses. Given how Pakistani women are policed over their choice of clothes, one would think that an all-girls college which is considered ‘liberal’ will at least let these women enjoy the liberty to not be policed in this manner, but that was not the case. In these four years, I was heavily moral policed at the college.

I remember I once had a terrible headache and wanted to leave the college early. For this, I needed to get a letter signed by my head of the department since we could not leave the premises before 12 noon. This was yet another absurd rule. The gates of the college would remain closed for the students before 12PM, which means that once you enter the college, there is no going back before 12 PM; even if your classes have gotten cancelled. I went to my head of the department and anxiously explained to her that I am unwell and need to leave the college early.

When I was done explaining my problem, instead of saying something about what I had just told her, she said: “But where is your dupatta?” I went silent for a few seconds thinking she might have not heard me. I just told her that I am in pain and all she could think about is the fact that I am not wearing a dupatta?

But then reality struck hard, and I came to terms with the fact that moral policing the students is more important for these teachers than taking care of their well-being. I apologised to her and said that I had taken off the dupatta since it was hot and I could not find a room with air conditioner on.

She told me to ‘be careful’ next time and said that I can leave the college but only after putting the dupatta back on.

I faced several other incidents where I was policed over my choice of clothes and the length of my shirt and at times the teachers who pointed out my ‘inappropriate’ dress also said some highly demeaning things about how a girl should save her ‘honour’ by dressing ‘appropriately’. All of that cannot be written here in detail.

But one particularly disturbing thing was that during the lectures, the teachers would often reinforce the patriarchal notions about women that their success depends on the man they end up getting married to and that girls should always be ready to ‘sacrifice’ to save their relationships. Moreover, girls were insulted by the teachers for having boyfriends. I remember a teacher telling us during a lecture that girls who enter in a relationship before marriage put their ‘honour’ at stake and that they should be taught a lesson by their parents.

Another incident that I would mention was when my friend who used to drive herself to college everyday was told by a professor that she should not drive the car and instead ask her brother or father to drive her because she might end up getting into an accident. Here the teacher clearly meant that women are so dumb they don’t know how to drive a car properly. Many such notions were often pushed by the teachers. This one time a teacher told me not to be too focused on my debating competitions because ‘aakhir mein shaadi he honi hai aapki’ (You are going to get married in the end). This is one of the many examples of how the girls were taught not to dream big, to merely think about getting married. And sadly, most girls there are not able to see how the teachers are wrong when they tell them that they cannot dream big because of their gender.

In my final year at the college, I remember recording videos of the faculty members with their views about the college for an annual event. When asked to share what she thinks is the best thing about the girls of Kinnaird College, a teacher replied: “They make excellent wives and dream bahus.” I was disappointed at her comment, but it was hardly surprising.

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10 Comments

  1. Jehanara Begum May 13, 2020

    Thank God I am not a victim of this myopic backward institution. The administration and teachers are most definitely conditioned into this patriarchal culture where women are moulded to serve the interests of a male dominated society. It seems they just want to perpetuate this regressive culture to hold women back and prevent them from achieving their potential.

    Reply
  2. Atifa Zaidi May 14, 2020

    I’m a student at Kinnaird, currently completing my Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. And i must say, most of the things you mentioned (if not all) are so not how I see Kinnaird. I’m not saying the place is great, cuz it isnt. But there are other issues you could have highlighted instead of going on about one issue, also, i wear whatever I want and so do my friends, none of us have ever been penalised although we were called out once or twice but thats it. No one likes the 12 pm rule which was the only thing that i liked u pointing out.. Also, i mean teachers arent really feminists but some teachers for instance, Ms. Uzma Imran is an amazing teacher and mentor all of us love her. Ms. Tehreem Aurakzai, Ms. Mahwish Khan Im sorry your teachers sucked but i have had alot of teachers that i absolutely love and respect, who showed me life is not about marriage, who showed me the power of being a woman, what its like to have an opinion and stand by it.

    Reply
  3. Maha May 14, 2020

    What the hell is she saying all about is totally wrong i have never gone through all this at college she might have some grudges so she is xplaing all this shitt i use to wear t’s n pants no one ever asked me for dupatta i dont know what she is talking about i have so great experiance although Pakistan is an Islamic state what is she expecting that they should allow her to come in bikini at college and leave whenever she wants to??? Its a college …and colleges have some moral decorum…colleges are made to educate do not they are giving education not a holiday pakage so sad to read all this shitt…

    Reply
  4. Zuha May 14, 2020

    I do not agree to this girl at all as I have seen many girls without dupatta and wearing pants and whatever they want to wear.She was exactly lie to all of us..

    Reply
  5. IJAZ Ahmed May 15, 2020

    Well the institution is marvellous without and beyond doubts. The lady expressing her 4 years experience at kannaird had probably preconceived illusions / frustrations, stopping of what she termed as policing .
    This girl by no means was set to land at noon and I am sure she has not done so yet.
    Absolute professional cribbing and sexual frustration nothing more than that.

    Reply
  6. Areeba akhtar May 15, 2020

    I am a student of biotech
    And see nothing like this girls wear whatever they want even I see girls in too short shirts
    And girls of kinnaird never become good wives except few cause they are too far from religion and want freedom if* u want equality with men okay…!!
    Then if people let you withdraw money out of bank if you are at last in line because you are a girl
    You want ladies should be first then this concept will eradicate like Europe than you have to pay half of the bills of your house like your husband you have to face all the situations like men doo
    Then along with men you have to work in coal mines however men works in coal mines only have short life span than do this then you get equality
    But you are stupid enough to not understand all the girls who say ” mera jism meri marzi”
    These are all the politics of Europe

    Reply
  7. Kiran May 15, 2020

    This post makes me cringe. Clearly what you have mentioned is more of a made up. I belong to same institutions and the things you mentioned is far off from truth.
    A cheap shot for getting readers I would say.

    Reply
  8. Maliha Syed January 13, 2021

    What on earth??? I studied at Kinnaird a long time ago and now a successful physician AND a happily married wife and mom to 4 kids. I can comment on every thing she has said.

    If the girls are policed over their dresses, I can only imagine what they must be wanting to dress in ! Even in mid 90’s, girls wore short shirts, I think the person posting is referring to girls without dupatta who are also wearing dresses that are more revealing . Every professional place and institution has a dress code they have to follow. Even Ivy League schools do!! How illiterate of this woman to not know this!

    They are probably closing gates because of security reasons. I know I wanted to visit too, was hoping to just go in once , when I visited Pakistan but saw the gate was taller, and not open as it used to be. Even though I was eager to go in but couldn’t, I was happy about the security.

    I am flabbergasted! What does she mean by “insulted for having boyfriends”? What does she expect???? She wants to have boyfriends?? You mean she wants teachers to endorse premarital relationship that likely would get sexual , and she wants them to be accepting of this. Wow!! Seriously this girl needs some education and counseling from her parents and mentors on what proper Islamic values are. If you are a Muslim , you have to accept Islam in totality. Islam absolutely forbids any kind of premarital relationship with men outside of necessity. As a Muslim, you have no choice but to accept the rules laid out by our creator Almighty Allah. Swt. This is only a very small way of expressing your gratitude to Him for His endless bounties. This post reeks of rebellion, not against college or society, but against rules laid by our religion.

    I am not sure if teachers at Kinnaird tell you not to pursue your career because you are a girl. Back in mid 90’s I never got that feeling. Went on to study at King Edward , went to USA and pursued my career. So did my sister, who also is a kinnaird graduate, and a physician in USA. Even if a teacher does say, you should have a sound head on your shoulder and a backing of your parents to know right from wrong. To understand the difference between the permissible and the prohibited.

    As for women who say “mera jism meri marzi “, they are a bunch of feminists who don’t even know the beauty of the rights that Islam has given to women. When I was doing my residency in Chicago, many times I forgot to pick up my check as it was not a direct deposit then. Our residency coordinator would often ask me why I am so lazy in picking it up. She asked me “don’t you have to pay your bills”?

    I told her no, my husband does that as it’s his responsibility. She questioned me further and as I explained it’s not a woman’s responsibility to pay bills, to do house chores etc she ended up by saying: wow I wish we had similar rules like in Islam. ( A word of caution: rights are exercised as a legal recourse. Marriages are not built on rights and responsibilities. Those are the foundation stone but the building is erected upon marriage ethics.. If a husband and wife hold on to their rights only, foregoing the importance of ethics, that marriage is sure to either dissolve, or be an unhappy union…. ethics extends much beyond just rights and responsibilities)

    However the rights don’t extend to your “jism”, your entire being including your flesh and bones and soul is an “amanat” from Allah swt and you are expected to use it in exactly the same manner that He has allowed.

    As for the marriage issue, yes it’s very very important to be in a healthy and happy marriage as it’s the most natural course of human life cycle. Pursue your career, but also be prepared to be a good wife , and a good bahu ( I m not at all encouraging to be victimised as many in-laws take undue advantage of their bahus, shoving all responsibility on them, which should do not happen) There’s always a balance to the equation. Some tolerance and some gentle and strategic push back on unjustful demands, will make way for a very happy and sound marriage .

    Good luck!

    Reply
  9. Ayesha January 26, 2021

    I am doing my inter in kinnaird and IA i will choose it as my university soon. The girl is literally telling lies. No one judge u here on your dressing . Like i wear whatever i want . Kinnaird produces the confident girls not the wife material .

    Reply
  10. Aradhana February 13, 2021

    I am absolutely appalled to read the comments of Maliha Syed above. She sounds incredulously ignorant, what is worse, she is pitiably ignorant of her ignorance. Love the fact that she thinks there is an “Allah” sitting up there who made the rules of Islam, and not humans. Surely, she must think every one else is a kafir.
    Feel sad.

    Reply

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