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Thursday, May 12, 2022

When security guards do unnecessary moral policing


No entry: Fernandez at a government building in Johor Baru.No entry: Fernandez at a government building in Johor Baru.

JOHOR BARU: It turns out many women have experienced being denied entry into government facilities by security guards who deemed their outfits to be “inappropriate” despite their modest dressing.

Since her encounter at the Wisma Persekutuan government complex here, administrative clerk Leni Fernandez has been getting a string of messages from friends and strangers, both in and out of Johor, sharing their tales of rejection.

“One of the women told me she wore a dress with a below-the-knee hemline to a government office recently but was stopped by a security guard.

“She had no choice but to unwrap the batik cloth she used to swaddle her baby and fashion it into a sarong skirt to cover up.

“Another woman shared that a Rela member turned her away from the Home Ministry complex in Setia Tropika despite her wearing a dress that ended below her knees.

“The man apparently said her outfit was inappropriate and made of ‘see-through’ material and told her to put on a pair of pants,” Fernandez said, adding that the had to go home and change.

Fernandez said it was a shame that so many women, especially non-Muslims, were subjected to “fashion and moral policing by security guards, which disrupts schedules and tasks”.

Instead of barring them, the security guards could provide polite reminders to the individuals to dress more appropriately for their next visit, she suggested.

She added that women should stand firm and defend themselves in such situations if they feel that their dressing is appropriate.

On Monday, Fernandez was barred from entering the Wisma Persekutuan government complex grounds here when a security guard deemed her attire “provocative and indecent”.

She was wearing a long-sleeved dress that ended 7cm below her knees and closed-toe shoes.

Fernandez hopes all government facilities could provide a standard dress code with clear visuals to prevent security guards from imposing their own ideas of modest dressing on others. - Star

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