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Malaysian Women Warned of ‘Sexy’ Attire

December 7, 2006

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Authorities in a Malaysian city have warned waitresses and female staff of retail outlets that they face a $138 fine if they wear revealing and tight fitting clothes, a news report said Tuesday.

The Kota Baru town’s municipal council has said it will no longer tolerate indecent dressing and will begin enforcing an existing Islamic law that prohibits indecent dressing, The Star newspaper said.

Kota Baru is the capital of the northeastern Kelantan state, the only Malaysian state to be ruled by an opposition Islamic fundamentalist party. All other Malaysian states are governed by the secular United Malays National Organization and its allies.

The government in Kelantan imposes Islamic regulations such as separate check out counters for men and women at supermarkets.

The bylaw on proper feminine attire prohibits Muslim and non-Muslim women from wearing body hugging outfits, blouses that show the navel, see-through blouses, miniskirts and tight pants.

``Such outfits are prohibited here as it smears the reputation of Kota Baru and affects its status as an Islamic City,″ Kota Baru Municipal Council spokesman Mohammed Azman Daham was quoted by the paper as saying.

He said the bylaw, which mandates a $138 fine on violators, had not been enforced strictly. ``But now, MPKB will no longer tolerate skimpy outfits,″ he said, citing ``mounting complaints from the public.″

In addition to the general dress code, Muslim women are also bound by law to wear ankle-length dresses and to cover their hair and forehead.

``We apologize to non-Muslims if this comes across as harsh but we must respect our Asian culture and religion in public,″ State local government committee chairman Takiyuddin Hassan was quoted as saying.

Mohammed Azman and Takiyuddin could not be immediately reached for comment.

Although Malaysia is a majority Muslim country, the minority Chinese and Indians are allowed to freely practice their religions and cultures. Most Muslim women dress conservatively in Malaysia, while the Chinese and some Indians prefer Western clothes that sometimes reveal their legs and arms.

Such dress rarely raises eyebrows in big cities like Kuala Lumpur.

The Star said Kota Baru’s announcement has outraged several women’s organizations.

``I would like to know what is the (acceptable) level of tightness of a pair of pants or jeans, and what happens to those of us who have larger buttocks?″ Ivy Josiah, executive director of Women’s Aid Organization, was quoted as saying.

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