Shanghai Metro 'dress code' warning sparks debate

Jun 27, 2012, 08:36 IST | Agencies

Authorities urging women 'to pay attention to how you dress' to avoid sexual harassment has sparked protests and strong reactions

Women in China have accused Shanghai Metro of sexism, after the transport company warned female passengers that wearing sexy clothing could provoke sexual harassment — and urged them to “have self-respect.” Shanghai Metro made the comments in a post on the Twitter-like micro-blogging site Sina Weibo, which was accompanied by a photo of a woman on a subway platform wearing a sheer dress with opaque black undergarments. Alongside the picture was this comment: “Dressing like that, it would be unusual for a lady not be harassed. There can be perverts on the subway and it’s hard to get rid of them. Please have self respect, ladies.”

Representation Pic

The post incited a flurry of some 6,000 responses — many agreeing that women should dress conservatively over the summer to avoid unwanted public attention — and others arguing women should be free to dress as they choose. One user, wrote, “What I wear is my basic right, it does not deny the rights of others,” while another said, “According to this logic, all men can harass women in swimming pools.”

On Sunday, two women dressed in black robes and masks staged a protest on the Shanghai Metro line 2, waving boards that read, “I can be sexy, but you can not harass,” and “yes to cool dress, no to dirty man.” Despite the offense caused by the Shanghai Metro blog post, a Sina Weibo online poll found that almost 70 per cent of respondents agreed that women should dress more conservatively on the subway.

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