Female Iraqi university students during a graduation ceremony. AP file photo.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education has reportedly issued a decree banning female students from wearing short skirts at universities, though top officials at the ministry said they were unaware.
Dr Salam Khoshnaw, Iraq’s deputy minister for higher education, told Rudaw he had been told about the decree by the culture ministry.
“Iraq’s deputy minister of culture told me that a decree of this sort has been passed. I am certainly not in favor of restricting student or civil liberties,” he said.
Khoshnaw said he would meet with the minister of higher education “to get to the bottom of this matter.”
Rumors had recently emerged about banning miniskirts at Iraqi universities, leading to controversy among students and rights activists.
“No decisions or instructions have been issued about uniforms or dress code for women at our universities and institution,” Aydar Abudi, spokesman of the ministry of higher education said. “Our universities and institutions enjoy freedom and we will not interfere in such matters,” he said.
Ashwaq Jaff, a Kurdish MP who is on the Iraqi parliament’s Human Rights Committee and visiting Kurdistan at the moment, told Rudaw that she had not seen the decree but that clothes were a personal choice.
“We have not seen the text of this decision, but we will follow up on this issue once we go back to Baghdad. Choosing what to wear or how to live is a matter of individual liberty, which is enshrined in the Iraqi constitution,” she said. “No one can constrain these liberties.”
Earlier this month the Iraqi parliament passed a law banning the production or sale of alcohol, a decision that is not being implemented in the autonomous Kurdistan Region.