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The policing of women’s clothing in workplaces

The phenomena comes under the guise of “indecent clothing.” Strict controls are put on what women must wear when they come to work. You must wear this, not that.

It has seen women almost not having the freedom of what they must wear. While it is understandable that gross, inappropriate dressing is just wrong for a workplace environment, this has now been used as a veil to usher in strict patriarchal controls on the freedom of what women must wear. This has been further reinforced by the enactment of laws criminalising a certain form of dressing. And when law is passed, it is law. It’s badness or goodness becomes another thing altogether. Simply because law reflects the views of the dominant players in society.

One such example is Uganda. In Uganda, the strict controls have become serious. Laws have been passed into existence to control what women wear. Last week, a court clerk from Uganda was suspended from her work because of “indecent clothing.” She was wearing a short and tight dress while in the line of duty. Rosemary Namuwanga, was suspended by the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Public Service, Josephine Muwonge, for indecent dressing. It was said that it painted a wrong picture of the Judicial services.

She was suspended by a woman. Others were quick to point out that this was simply internalised patriarchy and misogyny. Also in Uganda, revealing the cleavage has been outlawed.

It’s perceived as simple oppression of women.



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