Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dress code and morality

Education not laws the solution

I refer to the report “MPKB: Cover up or else” (Star Dec 5).

The Kota Baru Municipal Council (MPKB) has announced that it would “no longer tolerate indecent dressing” by women, both Muslim and non-Muslim. It is planning to impose a fine of RM500.00 on women found to spot such dressing which they describe as sexy.

This has brought opposing response from several women organizations like Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) Wanita MCA, Women's Development Collective and The All-Women’s Action Society (Awam).

Any move to educate people to dress decently should be welcomed. In fact not only Islam but all religions also preach morality and decent dressing is an important aspect of such a code. In has to be emphasized that morality is just not about dressing alone. Morality involves a wholesome behaviour that embraces all the virtuous human values.

Civic mindedness, respect for elders, upholding the laws of the country, being courteous and caring for the underprivileged are all important aspects of good morality. So are honesty and integrity in all our actions. A decently attired individual need not necessarily be a morally righteous person.

The authorities should work to arrest the deteriorating standard of morality in society instead of being obsessed with what women wear. Will enforcing a rigid dress code curb the sex-related social ills in our society such as illicit sex, adultery, abortions, incest and rape?

It is very sad that even those who are supposed to be role models for our children appear to be leading immoral lives themselves. What we need is not a strict dress code for our women but a proper education to inculcate good values in our people especially the young.

In fact the majority of our women are mature enough and have the appropriate sense of dressing and do not need legislation to enforce what they wear, as that is a basic individual right.

Like all other town councils,MPKB,has many other pressing issues to handle. Instead of being a “moral police” it should give priority to these other pressing issues and find ways to improve the livelihood of the residents of Kota Baru, concentrate on cleaning the drains and parks, collecting rubbish and providing other amenities they are entrusted with.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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