Thai Women Respond To Being Told ‘Not To Dress Sexy’ In Best Way Possible

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Thai Women Respond To Being Told Not To Dress Sexy In Best Way Possible GettyImages 945654248Getty UK

Women in Thailand have responded to a national public service announcement advising them how to dress at this year’s Thai New Year celebrations.

In the run-up to Songkran – the Thai New Year – the government released a statement encouraging women to dress ‘conservatively’ to avoid sexual harassment.

However, despite the good intentions, the government has been criticised for its tone-deaf message.

With the announcement backfiring, the women of Thailand decided to do the opposite, by dressing however they want, claiming it should be the men who should show restraint during the festivities.

Thai Women Respond To Being Told Not To Dress Sexy In Best Way Possible GettyImages 945702700 1Getty UK

It also prompted Bangkok-based celebrity, Cindy Bishop, to create a hashtag on Twitter dubbed ‘#DontTellMeHowToDress’. A defiant statement to the government’s ill-thought PSA.

Bishop, a Thai-American model, actor and television star, said she created the hashtag in response to the government’s message, putting the onus on men and how they need to behave appropriately during the celebrations.

For those of you yet to do your GAP year in the popular South East Asian destination, Songkran is the Thai New Year celebration which represents the purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck.

Popularly known as the water festival, major streets across the country are closed off and used as playful battlegrounds for water fights which encourage anyone to participate.

After the Thai government released their PSA telling women to dress ‘appropriately’, Cindy took to Instagram to say:

The way I dress doesn’t mean YES. Reminding everyone to respect each other this Songkran…

In live a Facebook Q&A she addressed the problematic message delivered by her government, believing the ‘conservative’ culture in Thailand has prevented its people from facing the issue of sexual harassment.

I am honestly floored and so humbled by the overwhelming support from everyone for my #DontTellMeHowToDress #TellMenToRespect campaign. What began as a spur-of-the-moment rant about the injustice of women being told how to dress in order to avoid sexual assault has turned into a nationwide movement and has now captured the attention of news media all over the world, likening it to Thailand’s version of #MeToo… Thank you for helping to spread my message and amplifying my voice on this issue. But this is not about me. This is about every single woman who has been raped, assaulted, harassed, objectified, and demeaned. This is about our daughters. This is a conversation long overdue and I promise to keep speaking up about this until something changes. Much love and respect to everyone who has joined the cause. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 ซินดี้ขอขอบพระคุณทุกคนจากใจจริงที่ออกมาช่วยรณรงค์แคมเปญ #DontTellMeHowToDress #TellMenToRespect จากการโพสต์คลิประบายความในใจในไอจีส่วนตัว ตอนนี้กลายเป็นขาวโด่งดังไปทั่วโลกแล้ว โดยหลายสำนักข่าว เปรียบเทียบแคมเปญนี้ให้เหมือนกับ #MeToo ของไทย ขอบคุณทุกๆคนที่ช่วยเป็นกระบอกเสียงเพื่อสิทธิสตรีในบ้านเราและเพื่อช่วยกันหาทางลดปัญหาลวนลามทางเพศ แคมเปญนี้ไม่ได้เป็นของซินดี้คนเดียวแต่เป็นของผู้หญิงทุกคนที่เคยโดนข่มขืน โดนลวนลาม โดนคุกคามทางเพศหรือเพียงแค่รู้สึกด้อยกว่าหรือโดนเหยียดหยาม แคมเปญนี้เป็นของลูกสาวของพวก นี่เป็นเรื่องทีเราควรจะพูดกันตั้งนานแล้วแล้วเป็นเรื่องซินดี้สัญญาว่าจะไม่หยุดพูดจนกว่ามีการเปลี่ยนแปลงที่แท้จริง 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 #womensrights #pressforprogress pic cr: @bownew

A post shared by Cindy Sirinya Bishop (@cindysirinya) on

She told viewers on her live stream:

Maybe the reason this is taking off faster is because they’re not coming out and accusing anyone.

Our society is quite conservative, and for someone to come out and point a finger at someone who’s assaulted her is huge, I don’t know if we’re ready for it yet.

The #DontTellMeHowToDress hashtag soon caught the attention of the country, as well as the international community at large.

On Twitter people began voicing their support for her message in the run-up to Songkran.

One user wrote:

The water fights and decibel-challenged dance parties begin today.

Celebrate #donttellmehowtodress #tellmentorespect Cindy for having the courage to speak out. Not many Thai celebrities ever do.

Prim Chuwiruch, a reporter for Bloomberg who’s also worked with Cindy in the past, posted:

Had the pleasure of speaking with @cindysirinya today on Thai women’s rights.

As a woman who’s been groped without consent, cat-called and even stalked home, I never asked to fear for my own safety simply because of what I wear. #DontTellMeHowToDress #TellMenToRespect

Another tweeter added:

Modest clothing doesn’t protect women from sexual assault!!

#DontTellMeHowToDress
#TellMenToRespect

Responding to the overwhelming support she received on both Facebook and Instagram, Cindy wrote:

I am honestly floored and so humbled by the overwhelming support from everyone for my #DontTellMeHowToDress #TellMenToRespect campaign.

What began as a spur-of-the-moment rant about the injustice of women being told how to dress in order to avoid sexual assault has turned into a nationwide movement and has now captured the attention of news media all over the world, likening it to Thailand’s version of #MeToo…

Thank you for helping to spread my message and amplifying my voice on this issue. But this is not about me. This is about every single woman who has been raped, assaulted, harassed, objectified, and demeaned. This is about our daughters.

This is a conversation long overdue and I promise to keep speaking up about this until something changes. Much love and respect to everyone who has joined the cause.

A survey posted on Bloomberg consisting of 1,650 women and girls, which was taken last month showed 59 per cent of them (from ages 10 to 40) say they’ve been victims of sexual harassment during the Songkran celebrations, this is according to the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, a nonprofit rights organization in Bangkok.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123.