Women say no to Shanghai Metro’s suggested dress policy
Following a warning from Shanghai Metro authorities to “dress modestly,” women have come out in protest.
The warning came in the form of a Chinese social network post, Weibo, after a number of harassment complaints were made by women traveling by train.
The post read: “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.”
To avoid assaults by “perverts,” they advised women to dress up in a “dignified” manner. The warning sparked strong reactions, many claiming it was sexist in nature.
“I can be coquettish, but you can’t harass me,” read signs raised by protesting women commuters who believed the warnings were offensive.
“It was a fight against the company’s statement on its micro blog. We believe women have the freedom to choose what to wear, and how people dress should never be an excuse for sexual harassment,” one woman who joined the protest told the state-run China Daily.
Lan Tian, a media officer from the Shanghai Metro operations centre, defended the online warning by saying it was intended as “a kind reminder for more self-protection.
“As the city’s subway operator, we have the responsibility to warn women of the potential danger of sexual harassment on the subway,” he said.
He added that there had been an increase in the number of complaints of sexual harassment, including men exposing themselves and assaulting women.
One man was accused of ejaculating on a woman’s legs while on a train at the People’s Square Station.
The BBC reported that the majority of Internet users who responded to a Sina Weibo survey agreed that women should dress conservatively when taking public transport.
“Dressing appropriately in public is a matter of public courtesy,” said one micro blog user. ”Asking women to be self-respecting in the way they dress does not equate to justifying sexual harassment.”
Tian described reports of a protest on the underground as “sheer hype”, blaming it on a “feminist organisation.”