Secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior Ouk Kim Lek said on Monday that 20 provincial administrations had voiced their support for a draft law on public order which would ban women from wearing revealing clothing.
However, they requested that the wording be made clearer and that some places, like coastal areas, may be exempted from the ban.
The ministry finalised the draft on June 16 and sent it to all 24 provincial administrations in the Kingdom as well as the Phnom Penh municipality for review and feedback.
Kim Lek said the 20 provincial administrations had agreed on the contents of the law but requested that some points be modified. A common request was that the details of the ban on revealing clothing be explicitly explained.
“We concluded that there is nothing strange in the draft law. Provincial authorities made overall corrections.
“Firstly, they support the draft law. Secondly, they requested some phrases to be corrected. They asked to add several phrases to [address] what is lacking according to the actual situation of each province. They have objections to wearing short [clothingss],” Kim Lek said.
He said most of the provincial administrations agreed to the overall points but some requested exclusions to the rules, such as being allowed to wear shorter clothes in coastal areas.
Kim Lek said the ministry is waiting for the remaining four provincial administrations and the Phnom Penh municipal administration to submit their findings before the law is reviewed at the ministerial level.
Then, it will be submitted to the government for a final review before it is to be sent to the National Assembly and the Senate.
“We got [input] from provinces. We will examine it at the request of the provinces because some points were incomplete.
“Each province has a different point to add or remove. We will let this law go through ministries. The short clothing issue is not to be decided by me and depends on further discussion at the inter-ministerial level, especially the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts,” Kim Lek said.
The government set up a working group to draft the law concerning public order years ago, he said.
Consisting of eight chapters and 48 articles, the latest draft has been made public and drew criticism, especially from social media users who say the ban on revealing clothing silences women and infringes on their rights.
They argued that the ban would contribute to a culture of impunity relating to violence against sexuality.
Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts spokesman Long Bunna Sireyvath said the ministry could not make any decisions regarding the law because it has yet to be sent to the ministry for review and opinion.
But he said the law must clearly define what is banned regarding revealing clothing and be vetted by relevant parties before it’s put into practice. He said other countries had enacted similar laws.
“Concerning public order, in general, what influences and affects social order is to be protected. No matter which country [you’re in], if people move their bowels on the road, that affects social order.
“For example, people wearing revealing clothes with the intent to show [sexual pictures] or nudity on the road is not allowed,” he said.
Sireyvath claimed the ministry will strive to bring the draft law in line with the context of society, culture and religion.