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Kerala teacher’s sexist remarks trigger ‘watermelon’ protest, women post nude photos

Thiruvananthapuram, March 20: A remark by a professor of a teachers’ training college in Kerala’s Kozhikode that Muslim girls were not wearing the hijab properly and deliberately exposing their chests like “sliced watermelon” has triggered widespread protests across the state by students with some women posting nude photographs.

Many student organisations protested outside Farook Training College, where Jouhar Munavvir T teaches, seeking action against him.

They said they will send slices of watermelons to the teacher just like the ‘Pink Chaddi’ campaign in response to the attack on women in a pub in Mangaluru in 2009 by activists of rightwing fringe group Sri Ram Sene.

“We will flood him with watermelons,” student activist P Ajitha said.

A few women students supporting the teacher also took out a rally on the campus whipping up tension in the college.

Students in other colleges also protested carrying sliced watermelons and sought strict action against Munavvir.

Some women even took to social media to post bare-breasted photos, which were removed by Facebook.

Television channel NDTV reported that 25-year-old Arathy SA was among those, who posted a nude picture, and that and her husband too shared the photo.

“I am upset with hypersexualisation of breasts by people. Whether it be professors in college or social media users seeing a model breastfeed and pose for a magazine. So I and my husband posted pictures of me nude,” Arathy was quoted as saying by the news channel.

“Just because people may find my breasts attractive, doesn’t mean they are entitled to violate me or my body,” Arathy added.

 Activist Diya Sana from Kochi also posted the picture of one of her activist friends, using watermelons to suggestively cover her breasts and face.

Munavvir made the controversial remark while speaking at a religious seminar in Kozhikode in north Kerala recently.

“I am a teacher of a college where 80% of students are girls and a majority of them are Muslims. Though they wear the hijab, they expose some part of their chest defeating the very purpose of wearing them. They expose, you know like how we cut a slice of melon to see whether it is ripe or not,” Munavvir said.

He said parents and religious leaders should take note of such trends as they were un-Islamic and against the very tenets of the religion.

“You should see how they wear hijab. They cover their heads with a scarf. They wear hijab in a way their chest is not covered. We all know a woman’s bosom is one of the body parts that attract man most. But our girls expose their chest giving an impression that the rest of their body is like the exposed part,” he said.

The speech was later uploaded to social media sites and netizens started criticising the teacher for his “Taliban-like comments.”

However, principal of Farook College CA Jawahar said the teacher made the statement during a counselling session three months ago outside the college and it was unfair to whip it up now.

“He goes regularly for religious discourses. We have nothing to do with it and no student has filed a complaint in this regard,” he defended the teacher, saying only a portion of his speech was circulated.

Munavvir, a social science teacher, has been working with the college for the last six years.

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