Friday, August 7, 2009

70 held under decency law in Sharjah

The Gulf Today, 7 Aug 2009

A recent public decency campaign that was kicked off on July 1 has caused confusion and fear among men wearing necklaces and other accessories.
They are anxious that they might be violating rules.
Lieutenant Colonel Yousef Al Naqbi, Head of the Criminal Investigation Department, clarified, "The campaign is not targeted at men who wear accessories. We are targeting people who wear revealing outfits, and young notorious boys who create disturbance in the streets."

Idea behind drive
He noted that the main idea behind launching the campaign is to ensure the safety and security of the emirate through rules of decency.
"We have arrested 70 young men who were caught pestering and harassing female shoppers in shopping malls. Police patrols have been deployed at various malls and residential areas in order to ensure everyone's safety. People living in Sharjah and those visiting it must respect the rules," he said.
The campaign will continue till the month of Ramadan.
The "Sharjah Decency and Public Conduct Rules" were issued by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, on June 16, 2001.
The rules define decency as not being vulgar or shameless in appearance and speech.
According to the rules, men are not allowed to wear very short trousers in public or in commercial places like malls and public offices. Chest nudity or wearing only Ezar (the local Emirati male undergarment) is also considered as indecent dressing or behaviour.
When it comes to women, they are not allowed to wear revealing shirts or blouses that show the stomach or back. Short clothing above the knee, tight and transparent clothing that reveals the body or its shape are also not allowed.
Swimmers must wear swimwear that is acceptably decent, and swimwear is not allowed to be worn on the streets or in public places.
Unmarried couples are not allowed to be alone in public places, particularly during late hours. Men going for prayers must wear decent clothing, while abstaining from wearing pyjamas or shirts embellished with indecent pictures.

Misuse of law
Waseem Naqvi, business development manager of a PR company, fears that the decency law could be misused.
"Recently, the cases of criminals who pretend to be investigative officers and rob people have increased in the emirate. So it could be easy for such criminals to misuse the law by falsely posing as officials and questioning men who wear ornaments, eventually robbing them," he pointed out.
Rahimshad, an IT professional said, "It's fair to impose the law, but the values should not be harmful towards anybody. Rules against vulgarity and shamelessness are welcome, as are the efforts taken towards maintaining public decency."
"But views, beliefs and practices of people who come from different backgrounds, nations and cultures should also be respected. The decency campaign will help maintain values by curbing objectionable practices and behaviour such as wearing skimpy outfits," he noted.
Meanwhile, a Filipina expat recollected a humorous Filipino anecdote. "We have learnt to associate people wearing too much gold jewellery with being sick with 'Hepatitis prince'. The people stricken with the disease normally have yellow skin and yellow is akin to the colour of gold."
"The humour began in the 1970s when we observed that overseas Filipinos coming back home from the Gulf, especially from Saudi Arabia, arrived at our international airport with a good amount of gold necklace or bracelets," she laughed.
The Philippine Consulate in Dubai had earlier reminded Filipinos residing in Sharjah that Sharjah authorities are strictly implementing the eight-year-old regulation. "So, the expat Filipinos must be careful about the specifics of the law and respect local culture and values," Philippine Vice-Consul, Edwin Mendoza, said.

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