Today in dress codes that unfairly target girls and women, the BBC reports that a 12-year-old girl in Malaysia was banned from her chess tournament for wearing a dress that event officials deemed too “seductive.” The dress in question, pictured below, hit just above the girl’s knees.
The girl, whose name has not been revealed to local media, was removed mid-match by concerned officials. In addition, she was told that her dress was a “temptation from a certain angle, far far away.”
She was then given the option buy trousers—which other participants wore to the tournament—if she wanted to continue competing. But by the time she and her mother were given this alternative, it was 10 P.M. Shops had closed, and wouldn't open again until after the tournament started the next morning. Without something else to wear, she was forced to withdraw from competition.
But how does wearing an above-the-knee dress to a chess tournament affect other participants, exactly? Especially if the wearer is 12 years old?
In a passionate Facebook post, the girl’s chess coach, Kaushal Khandar, asked the same question and defended his student. He wrote that “this bright young girl was recently the champion of her district [...] and has shown tremendous potential in Chess. This incident has left her extremely disturbed and embarrassed.”
Khandar called the incident “completely out of line” in his post. Facebook users seemed to agree: his post was shared over 3,000 times and received more than 4,000 reactions.
Local politicians and government officials in Malaysia also agreed with Khandar. In a statement to the Star, a Malaysian newspaper, a member of the government’s Department for National Unity and National Integration affirmed that the girl was “decently dressed.” Further, “playing chess has nothing to do with dressing,” she said.
While the tournament happened in mid-April, the Malaysian Chess Federation has just begun to investigate the incident, according to Newsweek. We hope they reach the same conclusion that we did: excluding a girl from a chess tournament for her (perfectly appropriate) dress is absurd.