Meera Samanther and her colleague Tan Heang-Lee claim that they had to "fight their way" into the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, 6 April, after security guards stopped them at the gates. Why? Because the length of their skirts were "too short" for them to allowed inside.
Meera, who is the assistant treasurer of Women’s Air Organisation (WAO) along with Tan, who works as the communication officer for WAO, were stopped by security personnel who deemed their dress to be "indecent" for Parliament grounds.
"I was taken by surprise when I was stopped by security personnel. They said I will not be allowed to enter the building as my skirt was too short. I just didn't know how to react. I was taken aback," Meera was quoted as saying by The Malay Mail Online.
Tan, who was also wearing a knee-length skirt, was asked to step out of her car at the guardhouse so security personnel could inspect the "decency" of her skirt.
"I wound down my window to collect the visitor’s pass from a security personnel. He looked into the car and told me to get out so he could see the length of my skirt," Tan, Meera's colleague, was quoted as saying by The Malay Mail Online.
This is what both the women were wearing:
However, this is not the first time that such an incident has happened where women were judged by the length of their dress
There have been several instances where members of the public, both women and men, were denied service or even entry to Federal or government facilities due to their "inappropriate attire". Below, we are listing down just a few of such instances:
. Back in June 2015, a woman named Suzanne G L Tan, who was at an unspecified JPJ office, was forced to wear a sarong by the JPJ staff for them to attend to her.
. Then, on 10 June, another woman was prohibited by the security guard at Selayang Municipal Council from entering its premises and was also passed a sarong to wear.
. A couple of weeks later, two women were denied entry into the Selangor state secretariat (SUK) building for not wearing sarongs.
. During the same time, a woman was refused entry into Sungai Buloh Hospital because she was wearing shorts. The security guards there forced her to wear a towel around her waist in order for her to be allowed to enter the public hospital.
. Later, Penang court denied a woman's entry for her skirt being "too short" and a journalist was denied entry into Defence Ministry for showing knees.
. A month later in July, a 32-year-old logistician was stopped by Ipoh City Council's security guards for wearing a sleeveless high-collar blouse and jeans.
. And in November 2015, an injured boy was denied treatment at two Klinik 1Malaysia because of the length of his mum's shorts.
Coming back to the latest incident, Meera, who is a lawyer by profession, told The Malay Mail Online that she has worn the same knee-length black dress to court and it had never been an issue
“The court never had a problem with my dress so I can’t understand what is the problem here. I am not wearing a mini-skirt,” she was quoted as saying by MMO.
Ideally, while the length of a woman's skirt should not be a security matter, somehow the security personnel, who should be more concerned about actual security threats, were more concerned about moral policing and determining the length of women's skirts
"I had to raise my voice and also argue with them that this dress had never prevented me from entering any place before and I don’t enjoy speaking in that tone to people," Meera said, adding that people should not be harassed when they enter Parliament as the “House of democracy belongs to all citizens”, reported The Malay Mail Online.