Reflecting respect or teaching children to be judgmental?

A young mother in tracks and tees is playing with her little girl. Another abhaya-clad mother enters the frame with her son. The boy lays eyes on the other mother. “Oh, she isn’t reflecting her respect is she? Come on mum, let’s go give her the flyer and ask her to respect our culture.” Or something on those lines are mimed, rather badly. (See video below.)

There. That’s what’s wrong with the campaign. That a little boy can go question an adult’s choice.

I have my reservations about dress codes, and have written about it before, here.

But using children in a campaign such as this is not well thought out. Why would you want to sow seeds of prejudice and culture-specific rights and wrongs in their mind? Is this what they are going to grow up with? To question the ‘other’; To probably confuse cultural differences as disrespect?

Do you want your children to focus on clothes and decide if the person is respectable or not? Aren’t there more serious lessons to be taught here? How uncomfortable and unnecessary to have a whole bunch of children in a mall chanting slogans and asking for people to dress appropriately.

And that video. Yes, it was all done with a smile and appropriate nods, and the ‘immodestly’ dressed mum trying to pull her sleeves over her shoulder… but what about the little girl there, who just saw her mother being reprimanded (even if politely); or the little boy who is so smug about having set someone right… how is this acceptable?

If you were in a playground in Europe, wearing a hijab, and a little girl points at you and asks her mother to intervene, and have you remove your… you get the idea, don’t you?

At this point, I’d rather volunteer to distribute those flyers, than have them recruit children to do it.

(Featured image via Fatma Al Dosari)

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