My Take

Standing up for the freedom to dress

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 July, 2013, 3:14am

Calling for a ban on provocative attire has always evoked strong reactions from those who enjoy wearing such clothes. But warnings against revealing clothes have been heard on too many occasions recently, with some even blaming instances of sexual violence on such behaviour.

This has evoked strong reactions from different groups of rights activists, who say such claims end up putting the blame on victims for such attacks.

A Toronto police officer set off a worldwide reaction in 2011, when he advised women "not to dress like sluts" for their own safety.

In cities across the world, including Hong Kong, protesters held "slut walks" in defiance and slammed what they said was explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman's appearance.

Maybe fearing such a mass reaction, one lawmaker in the Indian city of Mumbai played it rather safe. Or so she thought.

She targeted her ire towards mannequins. These plastic models with lacey bras and panties are planting "impure thoughts" among Indian youth and leading to an increase in sexual violence in the country, Ritu Tawade, a local lawmaker of the right wing Hindu party BJP declared earlier this year.

This was invariably followed by howls of protests in the media but no massive protest rallies across the world were held against her. Not even by mannequins.

Maybe encouraged by such a muted response from the victims, another group has now come forward against clothes that do not suit their thinking - the Taliban in Pakistan's Waziristan area. Having earlier successfully warned women off from revealing dresses, they are taking another step forward.

They want men to cover up too.

Wearing "tight and transparent clothes" is against the norms of the society and men donning such clothes will be fined, they warned over the weekend. They also asked shopkeepers in the area to stop selling such garments to males.

As a firm supporter of individual freedom, one hopes there will be a push back against such dictates that infringe on an individual's freedom to choose what they wear.

Maybe those guys who stand around the Abercrombie & Fitch store in Central can start organising a global protest against such fashion police.


Alex Lo is on leave