This statement is in response to the recent news of Terengganu’s decision to punish women who wear “revealing” clothing as featured in Harian Metro published on 20 February 2023: https://www.hmetro.com.my/mutakhir/2023/02/938041/wanita-berpakaian-mencolok-mata-di-terengganu-akan-diambil-tindakan-metrotv (Headline: Wanita berpakaian mencolok mata di Terengganu akan diambil tindakan [METROTV]) and the recent news of a woman expelled from the Parliament for wearing knee length skirt with slit as featured in Malaysiakini published on 20 February 2023: https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/655734 (Headline: Visitor expelled from Parliament for wearing knee-length skirt with slit)
There have been multiple reports that women are being subjected to policing on their attire. The recent one is in Terengganu where Hanafiah Mat who is the Chairman of the State Welfare, Women’s Development, Family and National Unity Committee “proudly” announced that actions would be taken against women who do not observe “Syariah compliant” dress code in Terengganu. On the same day, a woman was expelled from the Parliament for wearing a knee-length skirt with a slit.
It is disconcerting to see this kind of moral policing continuously happening in Malaysia. Sisters in Islam (SIS) opposes any efforts by the government, public institutions, or private sector to force women to dress according to their rules and standards. This is a form of violation and harassment to women to choose their attire and undermine their autonomy and dignity.
SIS also strongly condemns any attempts to publicly humiliate women and impose restrictive dress codes on them, as shown in Hanafiah Mat’s statement and the Parliament security officer who expelled a visitor merely for her attire. This imposition of dress codes degrades women and creates a climate of fear and insecurity as women feel like they are constantly monitored and judged by society in public spaces.
Therefore, it is imperative that both public and private institutions, as well as individuals to put an end to this obsession with controlling women, particularly how they dress. It is misogynistic and sexist to set a standard for what is “appropriate” and “proper” for women.