Public Display Of Affection (PDA) in India, let alone in Kerala, is considered vulgar. The social cost of showing affection in public can turn tragic in cases where people are ‘caught’ or ‘publically shamed’. There’s something about PDA that bring out a moral policeperson in many people. The Dean (Student’s Welfare) of NIT Calicut issued an email to the students informing them of the disciplinary consequence of showing PDA on campus. This has sparked a debated conversation about moral policing by the college authorities.
In the email, the Dean clearly states, “engaging in consensual or non-consensual” PDA and any private activities in academic areas, restrooms, poorly lit areas, or anywhere on campus is prohibited and inappropriate. Failing to follow these strict rules will lead to disciplinary action. It stated, “…[It] can make others feel uncomfortable and distract from the educational environment.”
A few reasons to bring out this policy, as stated by the Dean, are:
– Such activities can make people feel embarrassed or uncomfortable, making the environment ‘hostile’.
– It can distract people from their academic pursuits and affect their focus on their studies.
– It invades personal spaces.
– It is viewed as disrespectful and can harm community relations.
The student body of the NIT Campus has asked the Dean for an explanation.
Public Display Of Affection is often clubbed with ‘indecency’, which is vague, especially from a legal point of view. But treating it as an offence or prohibiting it in any manner is a violation of the right of the privacy of the person concerned.
I’ll end this piece with a quote from Shivani, who wrote for PinkLungi – “Would everyone mind seeing an entwined couple feeding off each other’s mouth during a morning jog? Maybe not. But on the other hand, should lovers be stopped from resting their heads on each other during a bus ride or holding hands alongside a beach? These are questions that don’t have easy answers. And while “lovebirds should get a room” is the common retort when presented with such questions, there is also the “freedom and rights” angle that you must consider.“