Women of Cambodia Protest Proposed Law Against 'Inappropriate Dress'

A law that will prevent women from wearing 'too short' dresses has created a stir among social liberals in Cambodia.

Many women of Cambodia have used social media as a platform to protest a proposed law being brought in by the government which will put restrictions on the dress that people in the country, especially women, can wear. This law prohibits dresses for women which are 'too short' and 'too see-through.' Men too will have to be careful. They can't be shirtless when out of their homes.

The method of protest chosen by many of these women is to post pictures of themselves in skimpy outfits including swimsuits. One of the opponents of this proposed law has also started an online petition which has collected nearly 14,000 signatures as of now. This lady is a recent school pass-out Tan Molika.

Cambodia PM vows to 'eliminate' opponents who protest
Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen has also opposed women wearing skimpy dresses Reuters

The government of Cambodia has presented this law as a means of preserving the cultural traditions of the country. However, feminists and liberals interpret this law as an example of the state trying to curtail the freedoms of women. They have deemed this prospective law as regressive.

There is another concern that stems from the thinking behind the law. It is the view of several experts that this law provides support to the view that seeks to put the blame of sexual offences on the victims themselves. These fears find support from the United Nations as well. The international body said in a statement that there are "social norms that justify gender-based violence" in the country.

Cambodia arrests suspect in David Bernat's murder in Bangkok
Cambodian society is regarded as regressive by some experts Reuters

The matter of modesty in dress and conduct became a top concern for the country's administration after a female model called Ven Rachna posted a video on Facebook to promote her product. She was charged with producing 'pornography' and sentenced to a six-month prison term. An official statement from authorities said her actions "disgraces Khmer traditions... affects the honour of Cambodian women."

The Prime Minister said during this episode that police should find women who are using immodest dresses to promote their products on social media and "educate" them. He also drew a link between such behaviour and crimes against women. The PM also called such acts by women as disgracing Cambodian culture.

Cambodia has had a traditional code of conduct for women called Chab Srey. Experts view it as the foundation of the sexism inherent in the Cambodian society. This law is seen as another example of the regressive attitude of society at large towards the fairer sex.