Decency in dressing is known to be a vital aspect of African, as well as Nigerian culture. Decency in dressing has so much to do with the acceptable moral values and qualities of appearance of an individual or groups of persons.
A dress is said to be indecent when it is morally or sexually offensive, or when such dress exposes some parts of the body that are meant to be covered.
Egwim (2010) referred to indecent dressing in a more specific term as “the attitude of someone, male or female that dresses to showoff parts of the body such as the breasts, buttocks or even the underwear particularly those of the ladies that need to be covered.”
Like other social vices such as drug abuse, cultism and prostitution, indecent dressing has become a major moral misconduct among students of Nigerian tertiary institutions. Indecent or crazy dressing, also known as “dress to kill” is rampant among universities, polytechnics and college of education students, particularly the female ones; all in the name of wanting to look “sexy,” “sensuous,” “tantalizing” and “stimulating,” forgetting that they ought to look responsible and sleek.
They deliberately expose some sensitive parts of their body to draw the attention of the opposite sex. This pattern of dress has been condemned by many right-thinking individuals and has been termed as “improper and unacceptable” because it portrays the high rate of moral decadence in the society.
Today, our society is experiencing decline in morality. This decline is not only limited to campuses of Nigerian tertiary institutions, but the society at large.
Along the streets, in the houses or in higher institutions, it is very common to see people go almost nude all in the name of modern fashion. Youths are fond of dressing half-naked in public, displaying their private parts to attract the attention of the opposite sex. Aside wearing short skirts, female students display their boobs as a cheap means of getting attention.
As Richard (1980) observes, “they parade themselves without any life of shame as they expose the vital organs of their physical frame of lookery. It is not only the ladies who dress indecently today in our place, as even boys do.”
Wearing of skimpy clothes, also known as “fitted,” strapless and short blouses and sagging of trousers – “low waist” or “ass down,” by boys and even girls, cleavages and sleeveless shirts, also known as “spaghetti or off-shoulder,” are the major moral problems associated with decency in dressing faced in tertiary institution today.
Apart from the skimpy and tight fitting nature of these dresses, they are again transparent; revealing certain parts of the bodies that under normal dressing patterns ought to be hidden away from the glare of people. Ironically, these are the renowned modern fashion trends among students nowadays.
Students dress indecently for reasons such as poor parenting, peer pressure, wrong use of the Internet, fading values as well as demonic influence among others. The negative sides of indecent dressing are that many of these students become victims of rape on campus; they are lured into prostitution by peers because of the way they dress.
Subsequently, they are tempted and influenced to become members of one cult group or the other and these result to poor academic performance.
In order to curb indecent dressing on Nigerian campuses, very practical initiatives must be embarked upon to educate the student populace about the potential dangers associated with it. The efforts of many tertiary institutions to reduce these immoralities in Nigerian campuses are highly commendable.
Today, dress codes and strict rule enforcing compliance of students have been introduced in colleges of education, polytechnics and universities across the country in order to reduce indecency in campus.
Dress codes can be properly enforced on campuses through the collective efforts of management, staff and security personnel of tertiary institutions. As Omede Jacob of the Department of Educational Psychology at the Kogi State College of Education, Ankpa noted in 2011, “Some colleges and universities in Nigeria have variously introduced dress codes for their students. The problem is not just in making the rules but in their enforcement.
For these rules to be enforced, lecturers should be made to collaborate with the college or university management staff and their security personnel.
Lecturers are to be empowered to prevent indecently dressed students from attending their lectures, refuse to attend to such students in their areas of needs. The administrative staff should disallow such students from their offices while the security staff should serve as watchdogs. They should be allowed to open a record in their office for immodestly dressed students and forward such names particularly those who are not first offenders to the disciplinary committee of the college or university for appropriate sanction that the code must have spelt out.”
To further complement the efforts of the management of tertiary institution in reducing the widespread of immorality on Nigerian campuses, the following measure needs to be taken: parents should be good moral exemplars to their children, give them attention and regulate the films they watch at homes.
Through home videos, satellites and other media agents, wrong values, fashions (modern, modest and immodest) are traded across cultures and nations.
As agents of socialization, the mass media must promote good moral values. The display of indecently dressed young girls (nudity) in advertisement and promotion should be discouraged. Radio and television programmes that promote moral values and the sanctity of sex should always be transmitted.
There is also the need to regulate the use of Internet especially among youth, because majority of the youths are exposes to different kinds of immoral activities on the Internet through pornographic videos, advertisements, fashion parades and music.
Religious leaders must preach against immorality in the society, counsel and deliver those under demonic influence.
In addition, there is the need for general orientation of staff and students on the need for good moral conduct. Students and members of staff should be educated on what is expected of them and why they are expected. These are required to ensure that lecturers/staff do not get used to values that are unduly antisocial as they become older in the institutions.
Written by Ahmad Muhammad Auwal (400-level, Mass Comm. student of