Women disagree on following dress code in Qatar


Women visiting Qatar for the 2022 World Cup differ on whether or not to follow guidelines regarding what to wear on the country’s streets. Some believe it is important to respect the local culture, while others see the recommendations as a form of oppression.

There is an indication for visitors to avoid showing shoulders and clothing above the knees. The official website of the Qatari regime for the World Cup gives the recommendations without distinguishing gender, but states that “generally” people can wear “the clothes they prefer”.

Reports indicate, however, that guidance is mainly aimed at women, since the country has a male guardianship system in which men in the family are responsible for the main decisions in their lives.

Palestinian Hala Kead, 18, believes that the best way out is to follow the local culture. She wore a flowered dress with straps that were slightly above her knees, but a scarf covered her shoulders, back and part of her arms.

She came to Qatar with her family to support the local team. The country is one of those that support the sovereignty of the Palestinian territory, one of the reasons that motivated the trip of the parents and their two daughters. This is also an engine for it to seek to respect local guidelines.

“Gulf countries have more strict rules about dress, so it’s important to respect their culture. But in general, people [do Qatar] they’re pretty relaxed, even if you’re not wearing what they usually wear,” says Kead, who is also Muslim. “I’m doing my best to dress appropriately.”

In the streets of Doha, the country’s capital, tourists feel free to wear whatever they want during the World Cup. Mini shorts, above-the-knee skirts, strap dresses and tank tops became common clothing, in contrast to the long tunics, accompanied by the hijabs and niqabs worn by Islamic women.

Anoushka Sharma, 23, didn’t know there were dress recommendations when she took a flight from India to Qatar. He walked the streets of Doha in pants and cropped, a blouse that only covers the breast area and leaves his belly on display.

He says, however, that even if he had been aware of the guidelines, he would not have changed the composition of his suitcase.

“I don’t agree with that. We should dress with what we want,” he points out, saying that he has not experienced any situation of harassment in the country.

Brazilian Raquel Fernandes, 32, believes it is important to respect the local culture and, therefore, prioritized clothes that followed the indicated trends. At the same time, she brought in her bag some options for tank tops, cropped tops and shorter shorts, in case she feels the environment is more permissive than she imagined.

Another reason that led her to favor pants and T-shirts was her own safety, since she didn’t know how local men would react to clothes different from what they are used to seeing on women.

“In Brazil, we already suffer a little from not being able to wear what we want, worried about what men will think or how they will act. Here, as it is something more rigid, the concern was the same”, she says.

Since the country was announced as host of the World Cup, in 2010, it has faced resistance from human rights activists, including feminists, due to the lack of rights that women face in the country.

In the male custody system, men are responsible for decisions involving travel, work, education, marriage and women’s health, according to Human Rights Watch.

The father is primarily responsible and, in his absence, other family members such as brothers, uncles or grandfathers assume guardianship. After the marriage, the transfer is made to the husband and, in case of divorce, the custody reverts to close relatives.

The law requires women to apply to the court for separation, while men can unilaterally divorce. The system grants parents legal custody of their children even if the court has ordered them to stay with the mother.

The set of rules, however, violates the Constitution of Qatar, which determines that everyone is equal before the law, and that there should be no discrimination regardless of race, sex, language or religion.

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