Malaysia: Give up lipstick, prevent rape!

Officials are passing out anti-rape pamphlets that warn against makeup and high heels.

Published June 25, 2008 1:30PM (EDT)

Officials in the Malaysian city of Kota Bharu recently distributed new rape-prevention pamphlets, the Guardian reports. You might ask: Do the fliers offer a reminder that "no" means "no"? Do they clarify that rape is possible even within marriage? Do they warn potential rapists of the severe punishments for committing such a crime? No, no and no. The pamphlet delivers a much simpler message to women: Don't wear eye-catching lipstick or noisy high heels -- or, if you must, pad the soles with rubber. (Seriously, it suggests this.) Municipal officials say the message isn't an edict, but rather an offering of advice for warding off rapists, as well as a reminder of the true "Islamic way."

It apparently isn't enough that Muslim women in Malaysia are already required to wear head scarves and loose, long-sleeved blouses -- they must also scrub the makeup from their faces and silence auditory clues to their comings and goings. You would almost think these officials believed that all men are potential monsters set off by the click-clack of high heels; that they are bulls set to instinctually charge at the sight of provocative red lips. I'd say this pamphlet presents nearly an equal opportunity for offense.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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Broadsheet Islam Love And Sex Religion Violence Against Women