A New Zealand high school is telling girls to wear longer skirts so they don't "distract" teachers and male students, the Guardian reports. School official Cherith Telford called about 40 teenage students into an assembly at Henderson high school in Auckland and warned that any skirt that doesn't reach the knees could be cause for detention. Telford said the idea was to "keep our girls safe, stop boys from getting ideas, and create a good work environment for male staff," a student who was present tells Newshub. "The rules themselves aren't the problem," the student adds. "The problem is when these codes target girls specifically because their bodies are sexual and distracting."
"I am very annoyed by this," says feminist commentator Deborah Russell. "It sends a message that young women are responsible for young men’s sexual behaviour, and also sends a bad message to young men that their sexual behaviour is uncontrollable." Debbi Tohill, the head of a rape crisis center, calls the dress code "appropriate" but says the onus for student safety should be on teachers, not teenage girls. Current school principal Mike Purcell, however, is making no apologies. "The uniform is practical for school wear and these rules are regularly enforced to ensure that all students can focus on their learning and feel comfortable in the school environment," he says.