Your Middle East
Last updated: 15 November, 2013

Turkish women can now wear pants in parliament

Turkey's parliament has lifted a ban on women lawmakers wearing trousers in the national assembly.

A deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Safak Pavey, drew attention to the trouser ban during a parliamentary debate on the sensitive headscarf issue. Despite having a prosthetic leg, parliament had rejected her previous request to be allowed to wear trousers because of regulations requiring women to wear suits with skirts, reports Reuters.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling moderate Islamist AK Party proposed the relaxation of the trouser ban, which was backed by the secularist CHP, the pro-Kurdish BDP and Turkish nationalist MHP. It was approved by parliament on Wednesday.

In October, four female MPs from AKP wore headscarves in the assembly for the first time since 1999, after Turkey lifted the headscarf ban in a number of state institutions. However, the ban remains for judges, prosecutors, police officers and members of the armed forces.

The headscarf is viewed by secularists as an emblem of political Islam and a threat to Turkey’s secular identity, but the AK Party has argued that the restrictions on its use violate the principle of religious freedom.