Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) assistant treasurer Meera Samanther (left) and WAO communication officer Tan Heang-Lee had to fight their way into Parliament yesterday after security personnel deemed their skirts were too short.

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian activist was recently stopped by security personnel who deemed her skirt to be “indecent” for Parliament grounds, re-igniting a debate on growing religious conservatism in the country.

“I was taken by surprise when I was stopped by security personnel,” said Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) assistant treasurer, Meera Samanther.

“They said I’ll 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,” she said.

A lawyer by profession, Meera said she has worn the same knee-length black dress to court, and it has never been an issue.

“The court never has a problem with my dress, so I can’t understand what the problem was. I was not wearing a mini-skirt.

“I am a lawyer and I go to courts and other places. I certainly know how to dress. This is just unacceptable,” she added.

Meera stressed that security personnel should be more concerned over whether someone is carrying weapons or dangerous objects, and not fuss about hemlines.

“The length of my skirt is not a security matter. Moral policing in our august House has to stop,” she noted.

Meera’s colleague, WAO communications officer Tan Heang Lee, who also wore a knee-length skirt, was told to get out of her car at the guardhouse so that security personnel could make sure her skirt was “decent” for her to enter Parliament.

“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 recounted.

She said she was surprised by the procedure, as she has worn skirts of the same length to other government departments.

She added that the security personnel only let her enter Parliament after they were satisfied with the length of her skirt.

“This policing of women’s clothing is uncalled for and insulting. They should not be scrutinising women’s clothing when we enter Parliament,” Tan noted.

Reports of the incident drew a mixed response on social media.

Some Malaysians noted that the security personnel were merely following procedures.

“When you enter a certain area you must adhere to the rules. We have to comply with the procedures without argument, no matter who you are. It is nothing wrong for the security personnel to stop (you) as he follows the procedures,” wrote Facebook user Mat Silah Wazir.

But others disagreed with the rule.

Michael Tan, a Facebook user, wrote that “they are now not security guards but moral guards.”

“Instead of going forward, Malaysia is sliding backwards,” said Cheah Ee-Leen, another Facebook user. AGENCIES

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