PETALING JAYA: Sisters in Islam (SIS) has criticised the recent crackdown by the authorities in Kelantan on women wearing “tight”, “sexy” or “indecent” attire, saying that it reflects medieval and backward attitudes on them.
Expressing its concern, SIS said the cruel obsession with women’s bodies and the audacious need to control their dressing unfairly implied that women were defective mentally, physically, spiritually and are dangerous to the moral order of society.
To date, over 20 notices and summonses have been issued against women for the way they were dressed in an operation dubbed Ops Sopan by the Kelantan Islamic Affairs Department (JAHEAIK) and the Kota Baru Municipal Council (MPKB).
The operation involved over 90 officers and was held in hypermarkets, hotels and resort areas in Kelantan.
“Today, girls are outperforming boys in school and women make up the majority of undergraduates in public universities.
“Work-wise, women represent 54.6% of the labour force in Malaysia. Operations such as these completely undermine the accolades that women have worked so hard to earn and reduce their worth to merely their clothing.
“Quranic discussions around how men and women should dress centres around the concept of modesty. This is understood first, as an avoidance of access, and secondly, as the covering of nakedness,” SIS said in a statement, adding that Surah al-A’raf (7:26) speaks of clothing to cover nakedness and clothing as a thing of beauty.
The same verse also stated that the garment of piety or taqwa is the best of all.
In applying the essence of the verse in everyday lives, SIS said it is important to understand that while covering the body is essential, no amount of material used or discarded can take priority over taqwa or God-consciousness.
“We are also concerned that operations like this completely discount the responsibility of men in ‘addressing’ social ills, as no men were given any notices or summonses for not guarding their modesty such as lowering their gaze in public as prescribed in Surah an-Nur (24:30).
“All brochures circulated in print and online via social media have also been designed to unfairly target, vilify and warn women and not men of their modesty,” it said.
SIS urged JAHAEIK and MPKB to make efforts to understand the lived realities of the community which they serve as a whole, as well as systemic roots of social ills.
It added that the solution did not lie in shrouding, segregation and control of women.