The Perplexing Parliamentary Pants Puzzle

This post has been updated: It appears that the proposal to allow women to wear trousers in parliament in 2009 was overturned, despite the news article to the contrary. This is the first time it appears to have reached a stage where it will pass. In this case, to accommodate Safak Pavey, who may become the first female member of parliament to wear pants!

Regulation were amended in 2009 to allow women MPs to wear trousers in the Turkish  General Assembly (click here). Previously they had been required to wear skirts. The issue is suddenly back on the agenda:

Turkey’s ruling party submitted a proposal to Parliament Thursday to abolish a ban on trousers in the legislative body’s General Assembly. Signed by the Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, Ordu deputy Ihsan Sener and Kocaeli deputy Sibel Gönül, the proposal suggests an amendment to Parliament’s internal bylaws to enable female deputies to wear pants while in the General Assembly.

The move came following the appearance in the media of photos of main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, Istanbul deputy Safak Pavey, who has a prosthetic leg, and amid ongoing debate, especially within the AKP, about whether trouser-clad women should be allowed to enter Parliament.

For her part, Pavey has consistently said that she is not bothered by her appearance and that such an amendment should not be passed for her benefit. She added, however, that people could make the change if they wanted to do so.

Article 56 of the current bylaw on dress code stipulates that “women wear [a] coat and skirt” – language that the proposal has asked to be changed to “women wear [a] coat and skirt or trousers and jacket.”

So what was the change in 2009 about? It’s interesting and disturbing that the AKP is drawn to “change” the regulations to allow trousers in order to hide new CHP MP Safak Pavey’s prosthetic leg. Pavey has long worn skirts and is not bothered by the visibility of her artificial leg. (click here) Indeed, one of her aims is to create awareness of disability rights in parliament (click here); it’s interesting that one of the first reactions is a “polite” push to hide hers.

Photo from Hurriyet

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