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BMC's getting its priorities wrong

Yesterday, this paper ran a front page report about how Kalbadevi resident Bernard Carrasco (37) was stopped at the BMC headquarters at Fort as security officers felt that the shorts he was wearing violated BMC office ethics and would offend women.

Like so many Mumbaikars, Carrasco, a duty manager at T2, wore shorts to avoid getting his trousers wet in the torrential downpours that are a regular feature at this time of the year. Carrasco was visiting the BMC headquarters to register a complaint against illegal construction near his house and said that he was humiliated and angry when he was denied entry.

One cannot comprehend what the BMC means when it says that women workers are embarrassed and ashamed to see men in shorts. If the civic authorities are so concerned about how people dress when they visit their office, there needs to be a clear dress code pinned outside so that people know. Arbitrary decisions made on vague pretexts like women are feeling awkward and uncomfortable do not pass muster.

If this man is disallowed for wearing shorts, what next? Will a woman wearing a sleeveless outfit be stopped because men may feel awkward? Where does one draw the line and, in the absence of a written dress code, how do people know if they have violated any unwritten rule by dressing in a certain way?

The civic authorities need to pay more attention to the concerns of the people, regularising of illegal structures, encroachment of public spaces, the state of the roads and footpaths, instead of simply wasting time and energy on such frivolities. People take great effort to visit the BMC office and spend time hoping to get their problems addressed, if not solved. By stopping them for inane reasons, the BMC is wasting their time too.

Every office can have a dress code for workers. Visitors simply have to be appropriately dressed, and wearing shorts in the Mumbai monsoon is perfectly acceptable. Loosen up, BMC.

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