The holy month of Ramadan started last Sunday (May 5). Since then, 39 women have been reprimanded for “dressing inappropriately” according to several agencies.
The Kelantan’s Islamic Affairs and Religious Department (JAHEAIK), Kota Baru Municipal Council (MPKB), state Welfare Department and the Malaysian police conducted an operation on May 13 reprimanding women for wearing “inappropriate clothing” and “sexy attire” in public.
The women who were singled out were then instructed to attend counselling sessions and warned not to repeat their clothing mistake, according to a report by the Malay Mail.
Responding to the sartorial notice, the Sisters in Islam (SIS) released a statement saying, “Not only does this practice humiliate and degrade the value of women, but the compulsive need to control what women wear also implies that she is mentally, physically and spiritually defective and a danger to the moral order of society.”
Additionally, the Sisters in Islam argued that the JAHEAIK is biased against women. The SIS questioned why men who failed to maintain their modesty by lowering their gaze were not reprimanded by the JAHEAIK.
“This discrimination unfairly suggests that women are exclusively to be blamed for social and moral ills within the community.”
The Sisters in Islam also condemned the widespread shaming of women on social media for their clothing choices. Netizens have criticised Malay Muslim female celebrities and politicians for dressing inappropriately or for not wearing the tudung.
Women’s rights activist Ivy Josiah added that policing women’s choice of clothing is an “unnecessary obsession” that derails from the more important work of fighting and preventing violence against women and children.
Sisters in Islam communications manager Majidah Hashim stated that “In a country that embraces modernity like Malaysia, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the rights of all its citizens to justice, equality, freedom and dignity be upheld at all times and not be trampled by states’ overzealousness in policing what women choose to wear.”/TISG