Malaysia told to stop 'policing' women's clothing with dress code plan
Women in the Muslim-majority country, which has a large population of ethnic and religious minorities, have been barred from government offices in the past for attire that officials deemed as indecent, such as skirts or shorts.
"There has been a trend where various agencies attempt to police women's bodies and their clothing," she said on Wednesday. "Why is there this obsession with what women wear?"
"They should be focusing on women's talent and capability. The last thing we should be thinking of is the length of a woman's skirt," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Islamic groups have previously complained about policies at some hotels that reportedly banned female frontline staff from wearing headscarves. Some groups have also criticised female flight attendant uniforms as being too tight and un-Islamic.
"It is not right to try to control what women wear," said spokeswoman Majidah Hashim.
Siti Zailah Yusoff, a female lawmaker from the conservative Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, who is in favor of a dress code, said on Twitter that covering up is an "obligation" under Islam.
The latest controversy has re-ignited a debate about rising conservatism and gender inequality in Malaysia, which was ranked 104 out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum's 2017 Gender Gap Index after scoring poorly on political empowerment.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)