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Kyrgyz Parliament Hot Under The Collar Over Dress Code

Dress Code

Dress Code (Photo credit: magnusvk)

BISHKEK — As the summer heat rises in Bishkek, the clothes come off. It makes sense, with average temperatures in the Kyrgyz capital hovering at about 33 degrees Celsius in July.

But while miniskirts, sandals, and plunging necklines might be a common sight on the streets, there is no place for them in the house of government.

Tursunbai Bakir-uulu, who represents the Ar-Namys (Dignity) faction in parliament, has taken it upon himself to address the state of undress in the halls of power.

“During the break a moment ago, there was a girl walking in front of me in the hallway wearing a miniskirt,” Bakir-uulu said during a recent parliamentary session. “I would have looked the other way, but without looking ahead of me I might have stumbled and fallen down.”

Bakir-uulu, a practicing Muslim, went on to propose that the wearing of miniskirts and tracksuits in the parliament building be banned. And he has taken to Twitter to spread his message.

“Prior to the Soviet Union, Kyrgyz woman dressed in Muslim style: a long dress, headscarf, or elechek (traditional Kyrgyz headgear),” Bakir-uulu lamented in one recent tweet.

Dress-Code Controversy
Now, following Bakir-uulu’s initiative, the Parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Procedural Rules has proposed a new dress code for any person entering the parliament building.

Shirin Aitmatova, who represents the ruling Ata Meken party, notes that dress codes are fairly standard for civil servants around the world. However, she argues that the dress code should not apply to parliamentary visitors.

“If this impinges on the rights of journalists to wear what they want to wear at work or other members of civil society who want to have access to the parliamentary building, then that’s a different question,” Aitmatova says. “I think most of my colleagues would not see the need to impose a dress code on journalists or other visitors to our building.”
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