Dress code enforced!
Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
ONE OF the first things that greet you on a visit to some Government entities is a long list of rules stipulating a strict dress code to which persons entering must comply.
Sleeveless blouses and shorts are examples for which one may be turned away from institutions such as correctional facilities, hospitals and places of worship.
Even in emergency cases, such rules are generally not relaxed.
Sharon Jackssaid she was turned away with her son from the Bustamante Hospital for Children because she was "not properly attired".
And, almost three weeks ago, a woman was killed minutes after she was reportedly turned away from a police station because she was instructed by a policeman to get "properly dressed" before entering the station.
The cop involved, who is a detective sergeant attached to the Caymanas Station in Gregory Park in St Catherine South Division, has been placed on interdiction due to the incident.
It was reported that about 9:45 on the night of November 20, 31-year-old Melonie Johnson, went to the station to lodge a complaint about a dispute she had with another woman in the community.
It is alleged that due to her inappropriate attire the policeman sent her away.
When she returned to the com-munity, she was confronted by her adversary and during a fight she was stabbed to death.
Since that incident, the police high command has issued a directive to the police force that irrespective of the mode of dress and appearance of persons making reports at stations, such reports must be taken, assessed and acted upon.
In many churches, a strict dress code is recommended for persons who take active part in the service.
The Faith United Church of God off Waltham Park Road, Kingston, insists on a modest dress code.
Pastor of the institution, Charles Francis, said the church believes in modest apparel which means that clothes should not be revealing.
"Proper dress code is required when coming into the temple. I wouldn't recommend that persons wear a sleeveless which will reveal the armpit. Anything that is too short or anything that is too tight are not recommended," he said.
He, however, noted that persons would not be turned away if they fail to abide by the rules but they would be placed under counselling.
"We stick out against inappropriate dress code because based on scripture it causes one to lust and so it really creates sin," the pastor contended.
He, however, said the rule of appropriate dress code should not be taken out of context when extended to the wider public.
According to Francis, the way persons dress should not be an issue when they turn up to benefit from essential services.
Executive director of Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), Dr Carolyn Gomes, said while her group has not taken a position on the issue, she sees a strict dress code as "nonsense".
Gomes said that public facilities should be accessible to the public especially places that offer emergency services.
"That is nonsense! A hospital should not have a dress code. A hospital is not about how people dress, it is about providing care for sick persons, not to discriminate against persons on the basis of how they look," she said.
Gomes charged that the strict dress code that is outlined at the entrance to some hospitals and other public agencies should be re-examined immediately.
She added that while there could be a slightly different standard for other government agencies the insistence on strict dress codes should be carried out with caution.
"One cannot be allowing dress codes to signal discrimination, so people who have a right to access facilities because they are offering public services should not be discriminated against because they cannot afford particular clothing," she said.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Jean Dixon, said while the ministry endorses the guidelines for appropriate dress code it should not be a hard-and-fast rule.
"They do have dress codes but they have to exercise some discretion because if it is an emergency situation you can't deny them," she disclosed.
She said the ministry has started dialogue with health entities about the issue and further discussion would be held tomorrow with the heads of the regional health authorities.
Dixon said the security personnel were mainly responsible for turning away persons from health facilities even if they had emergency cases. However, she stressed that hospital administrators would be given directives to change this.
Name changed upon request.