Russian Church Official Urges 'national Dress Code'
A controversial Russian Orthodox Churchofficial has rebuked Russians for wearing skimpy clothes and proposed a"national dress code".
Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of theChurch's social affairs department, chided women who "confuse the streetwith striptease".
He also frowned on men wearing tee-shirts andshorts in cities.
The cleric caused uproar last year when heseemed to suggest women in mini-skirts were to blame if they got raped.
His comments, made at a debate on inter-ethnicrelations, prompted the For Feminism group to send an online petition to thehead of the Church, Patriarch Kirill.
The petition, backed by more than 1,300signatures, urged the Patriarch to condemn "discriminatory and insultingremarks about women by representatives of the Church".
Organised religion has been growing in powerin Russia since the collapse of communism two decades ago.
Conservative trends within the Church havelong raised concern that women's rights may be eroded.
In an open letter published by Interfax newsagency on Tuesday, Archpriest Chaplin replied to the online petition by denyinghe had sought to "justify rape".
"I had no such thoughts," he said."There is no justification for such acts."
But the issue of inappropriate clothingremained, he wrote, before depicting a woman "dressed and painted like aclown" getting herself into trouble with "idiots" in publicplaces.
"Personal appearance has never been a100% private matter," he argued.
"Women's behaviour in public spaces, incollege or at work is not their 'private business' alone."
Turning to scantily clad men, he said theywere "unworthy of respect and only deserving of pity as if they weretramps".
Commending Russian firms and colleges whichhad introduced dress codes, the cleric said it would be "good to think upa national dress code".
In the same breath, he appeared to make ajoke, saying this new code "would not have to apply to strip clubs andbrothels".
"I think the day will come when anindecently dressed person... will be escorted out of a decent place," hewrote.
Russian bloggers pounced on the archpriest'sletter with one hostile writer, Dmitry Yakushev, describing it as"medieval philistinism" and accusing the author of launching a witchhunt.
"Violence comes not from women'sprovocations but society's degradation," the blogger argued.