Thai female lawyers protest against ‘sexist dress codes’ in courts


A petition to change the dress code in Thai courts has been filed by a group of women lawyer in Thailand alleging that rules barring them from wearing trousers are sexist and discriminatory.

Thailand has a decades-old requirement that female lawyers wear “international and polite attire”, including a skirt and shoes with a closed back.

“Women should have the freedom to dress and not be restricted to wearing only skirts,” said Ms Koreeyor Manuchae the lawyer representing the Human Rights Lawyers Association. The group is petitioning the Lawyers Council of Thailand to revise the dress code.

Ms Manuchae has twice been reprimanded for wearing trousers in court.

“We shouldn’t feel that wearing trousers is bad and is a crime. As a Muslim woman, if I wear a skirt it must be as long as my heels, and wearing such a long dress isn’t convenient.”

A code of ethics handbook for new lawyers includes photos of women wearing black skirts to below the knees and court shoes.

Lawyers who break the rules can face a range of penalties, from a reprimand to having their license revoked.

While such a regulation exists for female lawyers, government officials and public prosecutors are allowed to wear trousers as part of their uniform.

Ms Kunanya Songsamuth, a human rights lawyer who signed the petition, said she wears skirts to attend court even though she never wears one in her daily life.

“I don’t have the courage to wear trousers because I’ve never seen any lawyer do that. (Wearing a skirt) makes me lack confidence,” she said. “When I’m done with court, I always bring a pair of trousers to change.” (Source: The Straits Times)