Letters to the Editor

Towards a total ban of 'no sleeveless policy'

Monday, August 13, 2018

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Dear Editor,

In a country that temperatures fluctuate between hot and hotter it's surprising that it was only on Friday, August 10, 2018 that Prime Minister Andrew Holness ordered the suspension of the 'no sleeveless policy in ministries, departments and agencies.

The entire issue of the sleeveless ban has been a hot topic for a while, but appeared to have been resurrected in November 2017 when Lisa Hanna made 'the brave decision' to wear a sleeveless dress to Parliament. This ignited an explosive conversation with heavy activism by several quarters.

Advocates such as Susan Goffe continued to play significant roles in this policy change by questioning and lobbying the Government to act. With the hashtag #SleevelessInJamaica we started seeing more and more people in Jamaica challenging the status quo and sharing their stories of being barred because of their clothing. Women are disproportionately affected, resulting in disruption of daily activities and productivity. Many of the stories shared on social media have been by women who have had to use ridiculous measures, such as covering shoulders with a scandal bag, to enter buildings that have a 'no sleeveless policy'. Not only is our climate not considered when formulating these dress codes, but they continuously perpetuate gender inequality.

The reality is that there is no law against sleeveless attire. In a country in which the colonial scars are taking a long time to fade, our dress codes are still restrictive, even counterproductive.

I commend the Government for listening to the public and look forward to seeing a permanent ban along with the promised government dress code policy. This future policy should not only place value on our climate, but play an active role in encouraging gender equality.

Samantha C Johnson


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