Piety and reverence is typically synonymous with modesty. Today, however, caution seems to have been thrown to the wind as indecent dressing, even in places of worship, has become a trend. RUTH CHOJI writes on this latest development.
Clergies are beginning to express fears over the spate of indecent dressing in places of worship, especially by ladies. This phenomenon, that was once alien to Africa, is gradually becoming a norm and is contributing to the increase in the rate of immorality and other ills plaguing the society.
The ugly act has taken a dangerous dimension in the society with young ladies often found in attires that reveal their body anatomy inside out. To many, the dressing pattern is suggestive of something. More embarrassing is the fact those dresses are largely transparent.
Because of this, in 2008, the then chairman, Senate Committee on Women and Youth, Senator Eme Ufot Ekaete, presented a bill on indecent dressing on the floor of The Senate, titled, “An Act to Prohibit and Punish Public Nudity, Sexual Intimidation, and Related Offences.” The bill proposed a jail term of six months for offenders. But humanitarian organisations condemned the bill.
Reacting to the said bill, Anita Kyaagba, an undergraduate stated: “We are living in a free world and so, we are free to wear anything we want. Besides, since you don’t buy the clothes for me, who are you to tell me what to wear? I wear what makes me comfortable. As a young girl, I follow fashion trend, I wear the best in vogue and if it accentuates some parts of my body, and my boyfriend likes it, I don’t see anything wrong in it.”
Adefunke Olutoye, another student, who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday stated that she had to stop attending a church in which she grew up because the ushers stopped her from entering inside one Sunday because of what she was wearing.
According to her, “I wore a mini gown, which highlighted my hips and boobs and the ‘old-fashioned’ usher refused to allow me enter the church. Since then, I decided to join another church that won’t judge me based on my dressing, but my heart. Besides, the Lord sees the heart, not the body; so, why should anybody judge me”?
On her part, a retired school principal and mother of five, Mrs. Hilda Kumbin stated that: “It is unfortunate that standard has fallen in the society and parents are not helping because they don’t have time for their children. There are many reasons why young girls come out in indecent dresses but the most important, I think, has to do with self-esteem. When a young girl feels inadequate, lacking in self-confidence, she will do anything to draw attention to herself and wearing indecent clothes could be her way of doing that. They forget that for every action, there is a reaction; and that is why we have series of cases like rape. Most young women have fallen victims to rape because of the provocative dresses they put on. I believe that, indecent dressing debases womanhood because it tends to expose parts of the woman’s body that forms her treasure. Our pride as women lies in hidden and protected treasure; but when a girl exposes it to the public, it reduces her worth in the sight of everyone in society and it makes the man to lose respect in her; there won’t be anything left for the man to explore. Any man that will come after her will only be doing so out of lust, and just to devour what she has displayed for him. Even if you are decent but decide to wear indecent clothes, people will insult you,” she said.
Continuing further, she said, “A girl’s behaviour is often influenced by the type of training and grooming she gets. It has become necessary to establish guidelines for parents and students on acceptable mode of dressing. The National Assembly must enact a law that will regulate dressing in the society. I like what some schools like University of Abuja and Nasarawa State University, Keffi are doing on indecent dressing. Government must ban unscrupulous music videos and films, while parents must discourage their children from such dressings. In the same vein, teachers must discourage this madness. Young people must know that indecent dressing do not improve their beauty; rather, they dent their image and it also symbolises rebellion and immorality, ending in molestation,” she cautions.
Also, Mr. Peter Abbass, a Psychology lecturer in Nasarawa State Polytechnic stated: “I think it‘s time a course on immorality or indecent dressing is introduced in schools. I think it is low self-esteem that is making young girls to dress indecently. It makes them believe that they have to do something, sometimes improper to be noticed; this is to fill emptiness in their lives. They are not contented with their abilities and beauty.
“These young girls see other ladies dressing that way and because men chase after such girls, the girl with very low self-esteem will want to join them to get the same attention. One thing about indecent dressing is that it attracts attention; whether it is a negative or positive one, the bottom line is that it attracts attention. People must stare and automatically, such a person is noticed. So, when a girl who feels insecure wants to be noticed, she resorts to indecent dressing. Indecent dressing portrays our society and institution as immoral; if it’s in the church, it portrays the pastor as weak and not spiritually sound. Parents and adults must dress well and honourably as an example for younger generations. The mass media should promote good moral values and religious leaders must strongly preach against indecent dressing because you will be addressed by the way you are dressed,” he said.
For Pastor John Ishaku, Christian parents must teach their children how to dress decently because that is what the Bible says. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works.” So it is a command from the Bible. It is a sin for a lady dressing half-naked to walk in the street or come to church.”
Mallam Yahaya Abdulaziz, a Muslim cleric also stated that, “No good Muslim woman will dress indecently because it is clearly written: ‘Tell the believing men that they shall subdue their eyes (and not stare at the women), and to maintain their chastity. This is purer for them. God is fully cognizant of everything they do.’”