Sleeveless – Wear Or Not To Wear In Government Agencies – Pure Noise Pon Dis!!

Suh disya requirement well loud an wi still a loud it up.  Funny to see our esteemed QC leading the charge on the infringement of ‘rights/movements’ on this particular issue.  Di way ‘rights’ ago now, u can jus figet bout rules, regulations, code of conduct an the ting called ‘discipline’ that many of us born before Independence and through to the 1960’s were fed on.  Many of us who are so versed  nowie knowledgeable, exposed, and I daresay referred to as intellectuals were raised often hearing this, ‘speak when you are spoken to’, ‘u nuh see mi a talk to big people, wey u manners, seh excuse mi’.  ‘A weh u a put on dat ago, is Church wi going’.

Today many of those from the said generation recognised  upon turning ‘big people’ that conforming was never considered to be a prison sentence or a suffocation of one’s rights.  In fact many have tried their best to instill similar values, code of conduct to their own children.  So what do we have here as they are now approaching ‘ole people’.   The article that follows the one below has a photo of Michelle Obama.  As you look at the photo, put on a tank top, or sleeveless top right now and tell me if your arms look like Michelle O.  Dun talk bout di look.  How many of you personally visit our local government agencies with regularity or let me say within the past 6-12 months?  I know there are those who send their bearers as when you mention government agencies, your blood pressure is immediately elevated.

Mek mi tell u straight.  U have plenty people weh look like dem wake up draw on a piece a claat and ups and present demself in these offices.   I have stood in queues, in wonderment as to how we have progressed or rather digressed as a society, where freedom has meant, ‘anything goes’.  From the head to the toe, arms, breasts, belly, navel outta door.  Hair comb itch up ina dem head, and u a show picture of ooman in a sleeveless that bears no resemblance to wah wi ave pon di Roc.  This does not only apply to government agencies.  Wheel n come again.

I distinctly remember upon entering the Traffic Court a few years ago, well dressed in a sleeveless top was told to draw brakes.  Certainly I was annoyed as ‘dressing smart’ is my middle name.  While I rolled my eyes, I was thankful that I had the jacket in my vehicle as I took it off knowing that the Court would not have air condition.  It was then I knew of the requirement.  Looking around and noticing persons attire from the male to the female, I said to myself, ‘seeitdeh di good always suffer fi di bad’.    What am I saying exactly?????

Not all sleeveless are equal……………….Sun coulda scorch u lickle more, many need to wear a burka and hijab upon entering government agencies and other establishments.


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‘No-sleeveless’ rule gives rise to thriving business

(Jamaica Observer) Friday, November 10, 2017 19 Comments

A sign outside the Family Court on Duke Street in downtown Kingston indicating no sleeveless clothing is allowed. (Photos: Garfield Robinson)

THE ‘no-sleeveless’ dress code for the public’s interaction with State agencies and departments has given birth to a thriving cottage industry.

This informal industry involves T-shirt selling and renting by vendors outside public institutions like the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), hospitals and prisons, to the hapless person who may not have been aware of the rule that their armpits, shoulders, or even toes, in some cases, should not be exposed.

When the Jamaica Observer visited a number of these institutions and spoke with vendors on Tuesday, they said that at every corner of Jamaica there is an opportunity to ‘hustle’ and they are taking advantage of it.

At the RGD, where a T-shirt is sold at $300 and rented at a flat rate of $200, a man who gave his name as Fabian Johnson said he has been vending outside the institution for a number of years. According to Johnson, on a daily basis, an average two to five people either rent or purchase a T-shirt from him to enter the premises.

He said: “A lot of people honestly don’t know and some travel from very far. What are they going to do? Turn back or pay for the shirt? You have to hustle and if you can mek a money one way, you do it. Usually, though, as long as your back is covered, they (RGD) don’t usually stop you. But it also depends on the security guard’s discretion.”

A female vendor outside RGD, who requested not to be named, said rules are rules, but it is the double standard with which she does not agree.

“No spaghetti straps, no shorts, no rods in your hair are allowed inside, but I have seen them let in some and don’t let in some. Just today a lady was sitting outside as she could not go in and she said, ‘Look how they let in that woman with her shorts and telling me I can’t go in.” So sometimes they are biased, I don’t know if is who they know or what,” she said.

At the Bustamante Hospital for Children on Arthur Wint Drive in Kingston, the vendors across from the health institution’s entrance also confirmed the business.

Devon Hunt, one vendor who sells his T-shirts at $200 when in stock, said on a daily basis mothers can be seen seeking to purchase or borrow T-shirts, or making calls to people to bring an item of clothing to them so they can access the compound with their sick children.

“A lot are indigent or destitute and sometimes I, or other vendors out here, have to lend them a shirt, sometimes the ones on our very backs, in order for them to go in,” he said.

But like the vendor at RGD, Hunt said he has seen some people get past security at Bustamante Hospital for Children that has caused him to question why they were allowed in, but others weren’t.

He added that enforcers should be a bit more flexible with the rule.

“I’ve seen people come from country and cry because they weren’t aware, and trust me, it puts stress on them because they come with an emergency, and when your child is sick sometimes you not thinking of what you wearing when you rush them to the hospital, you just run with them. Now, if they don’t come you hear they are negligent, and when they rush come in probably [whatever] they had on at home, you hear, ‘You can’t go in’. How that go? You really can’t look at a child and determine their level of ailment, so the child will stay outside and suffer, get worse, and who knows, one may die one day.

“So with the rule, you have to exercise better judgement,” Hunt said.

He said, too, that some women have even had to ask taxi men that traverse the route to Cross Roads to purchase shirts for them, which costs them $500 as they have to pay for them to leave the hospital and drive to Cross Roads for $100, purchase the T-Shirt for $300, and drive back to the hospital from Cross Roads with the shirt, which is another $100.

At the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, also known as the General Penitentiary, Madge Clarke, a vendor for more than 20 years, sells T-shirts to visitors for $250 by the waiting area. She said some will buy the shirts, while others will just leave the facility and return another day.

Another female vendor, who calls herself Pam, said she believes in the dress code for certain items of clothing, such as ripped jeans, spaghetti straps, shorts, and tights, but certainly not for capped sleeves.

“That should not be pushed as heavily as it is. No inmate is touching you when you go inside. It is the warder who is seeing you and sometimes it depends on the warder. I agree, we must be tidy and put ourselves together, but for a sleeve, they can be lenient,” she said.

The issue of the ‘no-sleeveless’ dress code was once again brought to the fore in Observer stories which reported social media users’ reactions to a Facebook post by Professor Verene Shepherd questioning the dress code, after sharing that she went to a high school in St Thomas and a security guard looked into her vehicle and asked if anyone in the group was wearing a sleeveless top.

The post elicited a number of responses on Twitter after Latoya West-Blackwood posted a screenshot of Shepherd’s Facebook post on Twitter with her own caption which said: “With Kingston as one of the global cities experiencing climate change departure let’s see if it will be death before sleeveless #mentalslavery.”

Prominent attorney-at-law Bert Samuels also argued that the rule is unconstitutional and could offend an individual’s right to liberty, freedom of association, and freedom of movement.

He said the legislation that speaks to clothing is the indecent exposure law, which prohibits too much exposure of the body, moreso the exposure of private parts.

Samuels maintained that, a sleeveless-clad individual is not unlawfully clad, nor breaching any law.


Some of Jamaica’s most baffling laws and rules

With controversy swirling around the general restriction on the wearing of sleeveless attire inside most Government premises and entities locally, the question of other such controversial stipulations has also hit the spotlight.

The sleeveless debate arose after gender research expert, Professor Verene Shepherd’s recent experience of having a security guard at a rural school enquire if anyone inside her car was wearing a sleeveless top when she arrived at the institution with a group recently.

A social media post from Shepherd sent the debate into a public frenzy in response to her call for the Government to revise its dress code for the public’s interaction with its agencies and departments, to reflect a more modern society.

The post led to a number of social media users speaking out against the rule, especially the hindrances it has cause, and questioning its necessity in a modern society.

“With Kingston as one of the global cities experiencing climate change departure, let’s see if it will be death before sleeveless #mentalslavery,” posted Latoya West-Blackwood in response to Shepherd’s call.

“I went to get a yellow fever shot. After waiting 20 minutes to register, I was told that I couldn’t get the shot because my top was sleeveless,” Melanie Schwapp chimed in.

“When I went to take my voter’s ID pic, I was sent away because my top was sleeveless,” tweeted media personality and entrepreneur, Patria-Kaye Aarons.

And in case anyone thought it was only an armpit ‘assault’, Warren Smith tweeted that a friend of his was turned away from a Government office because he was wearing slippers, even though he had a doctor’s note stating that he was suffering from a foot ailment.

But it is perhaps ‘different strokes for different folks’, or ‘home court advantage’, as the tweets led to human rights activist, Susan Goffe, posting a video of Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ swearing-in ceremony at Kings House, in which Lady Allen, wife of the Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen, was observed wearing a sleeveless dress.

But instead of undressing all the untidy issues that seemingly beset the attire requirements inside public agencies locally, especially courthouses, Loop News has ventured into some other similarly questionable public rules or practices that almost defy logic in some cases.

Quite noticeable is the question of the completely opposite approach that is taken between the sleeveless-etcetera option in public building, and the offence of indecent exposure. In essence, both men and women can now parade as skimpily as they choose in public spaces outside of buildings and compounds, without risk of being prosecuted for an offence that is still on the local law books.

From ‘barely there’ skirts and shorts among the females, to males with their pants waists sitting closer to their knees, it is a free for all outside the Government compounds, amid extreme militancy inside the Government premises.

Next come remittance enterprises which restrict the use of cell phones through multiple postings of ‘no-use’ signage. However, in practice, customers are only pressured if they are seen making calls inside the establishments, and not for texting.

With the public perception being that the ‘no-use’ requirement is to counter efforts by criminals to make telephone calls to their cronies outside about people’s transactions inside, the big question among many is, ‘why is texting ‘allowed’, when it can have the same effect as calls?

Another notable public provision is for prison sentencing to include ‘hard labour’ requirements, when the average prison inmate spends his or her days as far from hard labour as the proverbial east from the west.

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