When clothes make a woman

"DON'T dress sexily during Songkran" news headline festooned in a small but conspicuous corner in a front-page report last week caught my eye. I was nonplussed with the enormity of this statement!

On reading the article, it appeared that the call came from a Thai government official who said "women should not be dressing sexily to avoid being groped, during Songkran".

The wise officer said that women should dress appropriately and should not wander around alone if they didn't want to be groped which implies that if a woman is seen alone, it could be taken that the woman wants or is agreeable to being groped. The statement came in the light of protests from women's groups who demanded better protection.

If this is the "protection" the half-witted Thai Government gives its women, what a shame and what a gloomy future it paints!

It appears that incidents of groping are high during the festival which has water as its main conduit and channel for making contact with people. I suppose, there are people who take to other extended forms to make it exciting for the perpetrators and odious for the victims. Having said that, it is not about the compulsive gropers but the flawed pontifical call to the women.

Incidentally, what came in torrents to my mind were the occasions our women were blamed for contributing to the increasing rape statistics.

It was not long ago, we would recall, the many calls linking rape to women's dressing which received huge remonstration from women and men alike for this uncouth remark made by a certain group.

As fallacious as it sounds, it is not just here or in Thailand, in the infamous Delhi rape case (2012), the accused who were interviewed came out unremorsefully that the victim having been out at that hour of the night invited what was meted to her.

Mind you, it has been just two weeks since we celebrated International Women's Day extraneously, the profoundness of the celebration and the taglines have been forgotten.

The aggression, violence and crime against women have been dealt with in a disjointed manner on all fronts and just about everywhere. Third World countries are right at the bottom where women are hushed up with views from "higher authorities" and man-made laws counterfeiting the notion that women are being groomed for bigger roles in various spheres of our lives.

Women will be truly free when we move away from the glitch that what women wear characterises her. Just about anywhere on this globe, we as a society have a tendency to be judgmental and we regard that as our propriety. Women who wear "revealing" clothes are branded as immoral and public shaming is becoming more and more rampant. With the advent of social media channels, people don't think twice about posting.

We have the fashion and we have the trends and they are ways of self-expression just as performing arts is. Having said that, certain conformity to social norms is required. While we all want to support current and future generations of women in making wise choices upon their innate value as a human being rather from a place of being sexually objectified, it is important to also note that we are circumnavigating a unique world.

That exceptionality will always be there, with the queerness changing in varying degrees according to time. We need to take ownership to a higher level, looking at ourselves from an external perspective, just as well.

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