Short skirts & tank tops banned from Israeli parliament under new dress code

© Ronen Zvulun
The Israeli parliament has moved to ban all short skirts and miniskirts, as well as a list of other "inappropriate" outfits, from being worn in its building in a revision of the official dress code.

“Entrance to the Knesset is permitted only in appropriate attire (no tank/spaghetti tops, cropped tops, shorts or three-quarter length trousers, ripped trousers, shirts with political slogans, short skirts and short dresses, flip-flops or open-back clogs),” reads a notice on the Knesset website, published on Wednesday. “These rules apply to adults and youth aged 14 and over.”

The rules apply to visitors, employees and MPs alike, but they are not new. According to officials, a dress code had already been in place but was vague and inconsistently enforced.

“This a not a new code but rather a revision of a previous dress code which circulated several weeks ago and is intended to clarify, as much as possible, the ambiguity that existed in the past — while expressing sensitivity and attempting not to hurt the feelings of our visitors and guests,” Knesset spokesman Yotam Yakir told the Times of Israel.

“We have decided that female guards will comment on women’s dress and male guards will comment on men’s dress,” an inside source told TheMarker business daily.

Staff are careful to avoid accusations of sexism, which is alleged to be rife in the Israeli parliament. Out of Israel’s 32 sitting female MPs, 28 have complained of sexual harassment, assault or discrimination.

“There was an incident that repeated itself in the planning and building committee, of which I was a member,” said Rachel Azaria of the centrist Kulanu, as quoted by the Washington Post. “Another city councilor would make remarks of a sexual nature regarding things that I said, and the whole room would burst out laughing. I consulted with the legal adviser and other officials, and they all said there was nothing to be done. It interfered with my ability to function, and I was very distressed.”

In 2010, former Israeli President Moshe Katsav was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for raping a female employee, although he has consistently proclaimed his innocence.
Israel is considered to be one of the leading countries for women’s rights in the Middle East. However, sexism remains a problem and in recent years ultra-orthodox Jews have attempted to enforce what they consider to be “modesty,” telling women to cover up and avoid walking in public areas. In June, an ultra-orthodox rabbi banned a five-year-old girl from riding a bike on the grounds that men could find it “provocative.”