Thursday, December 07, 2006

Caucus takes council to task over dress code

The Gender Equality Causus in Parliament condemned the fine imposed on sexy dress by the Muslim Municipal Council of Kelantan.

Caucus takes council to task over dress code

KUALA LUMPUR: The Parliamentary Caucus on Gender Equality has taken the Kota Baru Municipal Council to task for its move to fine women working in restaurants and retail outlets deemed “indecently dressed”.

Led by its chairman Ampang MP Dr Rozaidah Talib, the 15-member caucus said the council should not have come up with a ruling that compelled women to follow a dress code or risk being fined.

Kota Melaka MP Wong Nai Chee said the stand taken by the council was a chauvinistic one and would only create unnecessary controversy.

“It is not right to impose the ruling and subject women to it. What is deemed decent or indecent is a subjective matter,” he told a press conference at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

Fellow caucus member Cameron Highlands MP S.K. Devamany concurred that the definition of decency was ambiguous.

“The ruling is a step backward,” he said.

On Monday, the council had warned that both Muslim and non-Muslim women working in retail outlets and restaurants should take note of their dressing, saying that under local council by-laws, those who “dressed sexily or indecently” could be fined up to RM500.

Dr Rozaidah said the choice of dress was the right of an individual.

“Why is the council making morality-related statements when it should be concentrating on policy issues?” she said.

Caucus vice-chairman Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng, said the council should instead be looking at real issues affecting women such as gender equality, women in poverty and single mothers.

Formed in August, the caucus has 15 members representing both the Barisan Nasional and the Opposition.

Later in the day, caucus members and other MPs had a forum with Universiti Malaya gender studies programme coordinator Dr Shanthi Thambiah on the importance of gender equality when making policies.

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