A university in China has been slammed after it urged its female students to cover up in a bid to discourage “temptation” from others.
Guangxi University, located in the city of Nanning, southern China, last week released a ‘Girls’ Safety Strategy’ to its incoming students that included a dress code.
"Don't wear overly revealing tops or skirts. Don't wear low-cut dresses or expose your waist or back, to avoid creating temptation," the guide said, while asking students to be “vigilant” to “unprovoked courtesy”.
The guidelines were widely interpreted in China as suggesting women who wear such clothing were inviting sexual harassment or even assault.
The university has also banned spaghetti-strap singlets in its library, while it has told students not to wear high heels in certain settings.
China’s traditional attitudes to women and sexual assault are slowly changing from a widespread mindset of victim blaming that often deemed a woman’s choice of clothing could be blamed for their assault, Reuters reported.
Many women also worry they will not be taken seriously if they report harassment or that they will be held responsible for the incident.
The guide prompted a huge social media response, with the hashtag ‘Guangxi University female students’ garnering more than 200 million views on Chinese platform Weibo.
Thousands criticised the university over the guide as the nation’s nascent #MeToo movement spoke up, lambasting it as “going in the wrong direction”.
“Shouldn't a school educate male students to respect women, no matter what she wears or if she is alone? Instead of asking the victims to review themselves," one person wrote online.
"The safety handbook appears to be protection for girls, but in fact, it's worsening the gender stereotype that assumes women are harassed because of the way they dress," another said.
University staff clarify guide
A female staff member at the university reportedly said the guide has been prompted by students coming to the humid region from cooler climates, meaning students were wearing less clothes on campus, China Economic Net reported.
While the university has not officially responded to the furore over its guide, a staff member at the Academic Affairs Office said the rules were meant to improve “civilised etiquette” at the university.
They said while such attire was acceptable outside of the campus, students were required to wear respectable clothing when at the university.
"In the university, I feel that the students have forgotten some of the most basic etiquette,” they said, noting the university had fallen behind other universities in its standards.
Some online users called for male students to be issued similar guidelines to prevent them from taking their tops off during hot periods.
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