“Dress Modestly” Campaigns: Are They The Only Solution?

Posted on July 1, 2012 in GlobeScope

By Subodh Jain:

With so many cultures residing together under a common sky, a certain amount of differences in opinion is expected. Today, protests and campaigns are raised in various parts of the world with regards to dressing in public places. Ever since the whole issue has started, several people have come up with different ideas as to why a minimum dress code should be maintained. Many women groups have launched different campaigns in the form of protests, seminars and workshops against moral decadence in the society. The motto behind such campaigns is to make the women community, especially students and the youth, aware about indecent dressings.

Recently, we witnessed two issues which were based on the grounds of culture and modern day dressing. One was the Twitter campaign with a tagline “dress modestly” and the other was the controversial concert of Madonna in Abu Dhabi. In the Twitter campaign, a group of Emiratis raised their voice against the unduly thrifty attire that some foreigners preferred to wear in public places like malls, etc. the UAEdresscode- twitter campaign proved to be a perfect platform for Emiratis to voice their opinions on immodest dressing. Hanan Al-Rayes and Asma Al-Muhairi, launched the campaign after encountering a young women in shorts which according to them, left little to the imagination. Further they added that such skimpy dressing was against the social and cultural values of women residing in UAE.

The second clash this month was Madonna’s live concert in UAE. A large number of people expressed their anger and frustration on social networking sites regarding the revealing costumes that Madonna wore at the concert.

Witnessing these two issues, many people have demanded strict laws to be enacted against indecent dressing. However, this gives rise to another issue in the name of freedom. Justice (Mrs.) Mary Odili on International Youth Day, expressed her worries related to worsening of ethics and culture in Nigeria. She commented that the key reason for this declination was negligence from the adult community.

Till date many bills have come up in the parliaments of various countries against immodest dressing but majority of them were badly criticized and were never given a second thought. I feel that sometimes certain emotions and social values are above any law. It is not the fact that only after imposing strict laws, can such immodest dressing in public be stopped. Arranging awareness programs on social values and culture and creating a sense of respect, will definitely bring down such issues. For example, we use seat belts while driving not just because cops will fine us for not using those, but also with the fear of an accident. Similarly workshops and campaigns must not only highlight the revolt against indecent dressing but also focus on cultural beliefs and its importance. And at the same time, people must also understand that public places are meant for public enjoyment, and are linked with people of many different castes, creeds, cultures, landforms, etc. So, an optimum level of dressing sense must be maintained in order to respect the sentiments of the society.