Groups: Don’t interfere with a person’s freedom to choose their attire

(The Star) – PETALING JAYA: Having regulations or snoop squads in Kelantan to check on how Muslim women dress is ridiculous, say women’s groups.

All Women’s Action Society Malaysia (Awam) acting president Ho Yoke Lin said there was no need to snoop on or regulate a person’s dressing.

“This is absurd. Why interfere with a person’s freedom and dictate how they should or should not dress?

“What are they going to regulate next? Women know how to dress themselves,” she said yesterday.

Ho was commenting on the Kelantan state government’s move to enact council by-laws dictating how Muslim women should dress as well as the suggestion by a state councillor that a snoop squad be set up to spy on their dressing.

The state’s local councils have issued 225 compounds for violation of dress code by-laws at business premises to date, it was reported.

Women’s rights group Empower Malaysia executive director Maria Chin Abdullah said women were entitled to choose their dressing.

“The authorities should not be obsessed with how women dress.

“We have to respect people regardless of whether they are women, men, Muslims or non-Muslims. Everyone has a right to dress the way they want.

“Women do not need this form of intimidation or fear put in them,” she said.

Women’s Aid Organisation president Mok Chuang Lian said the way a woman dresses is a personal choice and her right.

“You cannot tell them what to wear. Why must one always dictate or form laws about what women should or should not wear?”

She said the focus should not be on women’s dressing but tackling issues like corruption, poverty and crime.

“Dressing should be the least of their concerns. There are other pressing issues that need to be looked into,” Chin said.