Turkish Trouser Ban Trounced In Victory For Equality

A Step Towards Equality?
female legs walking in trousers ...
female legs walking in trousers ...

The Turkish parliament has relaxed a ban on female MPs wearing trousers.

The move is a further liberalisation of dress rules after the landmark decision to allow female deputies to wear the Islamic headscarf.

The debate about the ban was brought forward by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Şafak Pavey - who had been forced to wear skirts despite having a prosthetic leg, Reuters reported.

Pavey, elected to office in June 2011, had requests rejected to be allowed to wear trousers because of regulations which specified that women should wear suits with skirts.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's ruling center-right AK Party, which has Islamist roots, proposed the relaxation of the trouser ban and the opposition parties - the secularist CHP, the pro-Kurdish BDP and Turkish nationalist MHP - backed the plan.

Parliament approved the measure late on Wednesday.

The modified Article 56 of Parliament's internal regulations states that "Women shall wear jackets and skirts or jackets and trousers" instead of the previous "Ladies shall wear tailleur," a strict rule which indirectly banned women from wearing trousers.

The Turkish parliament witnessed historic scenes at the end of October when four AKP female lawmakers wore headscarves for the first time in the assembly.

The headscarf is viewed by secularists as an emblem of political Islam and thus a threat to the republic's secular identity, but the AK Party has argued that the restrictions on its use violate the principle of religious freedom.

Secularists made only subdued protests to the move, highlighting a shift in attitudes in Turkey about religion after more than a decade of AKP rule. The headscarf ban has also been lifted in other state institutions as well as parliament.

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