This evening, the chatbox was chatting - amongst other things - about Kelantan where the topic about banning lipstick, high heels & rape prevention came up!
Personally, my knowledge about this is limited, and came primarily from the Star article below.
The Star attributed the source of reporting to Bernama, which should have raised eyebrows.
But the actual impact of that reporting surprised me in retrospect.
In the absence of conflicting information, none of us suspected anything and just ass-u-me-d that both Bernama and the Star were reporting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
And in retrospect, this turned out to be a BIG mistake!
Anyway, if you still don't understand what I'm talking about, this is what the Star reported:
KB council bans lipstick, high heels
KOTA BARU: Muslim women employees working here are forbidden to wear lipstick and high-heeled shoes to work.
This directive is contained in a municipal council circular dated May 25 and signed by its president Shafie Ismail, which has been distributed to business premises here.
A check, however, found that only a few tenants had received the circular this week.
The circular stated that the directive, targeted at Muslim women employees working in food outlets and other business premises, was issued to prevent incidents like rape and illicit sex as well as to safeguard the morals and dignity of Muslim women in Kelantan.
It stated that Muslim women were forbidden to wear thick make-up, bright coloured lipstick and high-heeled shoes which made a tapping sound.
Those who insisted on wearing high-heeled shoes should choose those with rubber soles.
Attempts to contact Shafie for clarification were futile.
The directive on the wearing of lipstick and high-heeled shoes are in addition to the wearing of scarves, which should cover the chest and not be of transparent material, blouses with long sleeves, which were long and loose, as well as socks.
Those who do not adhere to the regulation can be fined up to RM500. – Bernama
So, if you just read that and that only, what do you think?
Well, if you're like most people, I think this might be what you're thinking ...
"What a stupid & idiotic thing to do in Kelantan"
"It is stupid to ban lipsticks and high heeled shoes!"
"Lipsticks and high heeled shoes have nothing to do with rape prevention!"
"Men must take responsibility for their own feelings and actions, not the women!"
"Which stupid government in Kelantan introduced this? PAS?"
"Doesn't PAS has better things to do in Kelantan?"
etc. etc. etc.
So easy to think like this isn't it?
And like you, I also fell into that trap of thinking for nearly 2 days.
Until I visited this website here - http://harismibrahim.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/selamat-datang-ke-darul-al-taliban/
A few enlightening things:
1. More facts in that article. There is an actual copy of the circular in that link. It also has a copy of the pamphlet so that we can better understand what actually happened in Kelantan.
2. The first shocking discovery I got from the website is that the scope is not applying to the entire Kelantan state, but to just Muslim women traders within the ambit of Majlis Perbandaran Kota Bahru (MPKB) Bandar Raya Islam.
This was a real shock!
Bernama and the Star failed to clarify.
Instead, see how the Star and Bernama reported this:
"The circular stated that the directive, targeted at Muslim women employees working in food outlets and other business premises, was issued to prevent incidents like rape and illicit sex as well as to safeguard the morals and dignity of Muslim women in Kelantan."
Amazing isn't it?
How by just taking out the reference to the ambit, we were led to think that this happened throughout the whole state of Kelantan.
Do you think this is an omission?
Or the work of a clever writer?
3. Reading further the excellent investigative article by Helen Ang disclosed several other facts:
a. The circular and the pamphlet are 2 separate documents. (The Star reporting didn't disclose the presence of the pamphlet).
b. The circular is issued annually, and does not appear to be something new. (I didn't get this sense from the Star Reporting. Instead, I thought it was a new directive).
c. Where did MSM (Bernama, The Star) get the info in red bold about "... The circular stated that the directive, targeted at Muslim women employees working in food outlets and other business premises, was issued to prevent incidents like rape and illicit sex as well as to safeguard the morals and dignity of Muslim women in Kelantan."???
Did the circular in Helen Ang's article refer to "rape prevention"?
If not, don't you wonder where MSM got this info from?
Helen Ang (the author) mentions the possibility that maybe the pamphlet might have something like that, but she was speculating at the time of writing her articles. Certainly, the "circular" didn't appear to say that.
Again, I ask you - do you think this is accidental omission?
Or is this the work of someone clever?
Well, I don't know about you, but I think this one deserves an A+.
Despite the misreporting, MPKB did issue something and you might wonder "Does MPKB has the moral authority to even issue such a circular and pamphlet?"
What do I think?
Well, this is tricky.
Because if you had read just the Star & Bernama articles and nothing else, chances are good that you will have already formed your own opinions.
My guess - very strong opinions.
Which means, in practice, it would be very difficult for you to then take the personal effort to study the circular and the pamphlet in detail.
Have you tried looking at the circular and pamphlet in Helen Ang's article?
Unfortunately, the font size in Helen Ang's article of the pamphlet is far too small for me to read.
I couldn't make sense of what's written in there to be honest.
So, I still don't know what is actually written in that pamphlet.
Which means, I am still not able to form an intelligent view of what MPKB has actually issued.
Which means, I don't have a strong intelligent opinion.
But from the little that I can gather ...
There seems to be some sort of "uniform" code for the traders in MPKB.
In the pamphlet, I can see on the left side, an "example" of an acceptable dress code. In the middle, some examples of what isn't acceptable.
I also know that dress codes are a fairly common thing in many industries and service sectors. E.g. work uniforms like the army, police, nurses, doctors, factories, traders, etc.
But let me ask you another question.
If you had just read the Star and Bernama, what would be your immediate feelings towards Kelantan government?
You might think PAS is an idiot isn't it?
So, would this article then be considered seditious?
Any lawyers like to lend their views?