25 January 2013

Kenya: Why the Fuss Over LSK Dress Code?


I sometimes smile to myself when I see things like the Law Society of Kenya's new dress code making it to news headlines and being made into a point of discussion. So I thought I'd keep smiling, jump into the discussion bandwagon and give my two bits worth.

I had a look at the dress code and wondered why it even became a heated topic of discussion on Twitter. Haven't these basic dress code rules been in place for many years? It is very elementary, if you ask me.

I got into a discussion with a gentleman who insisted a lawyer doesn't become less of a person if he is in a jeans, t-shirt and sandals. You're right. He doesn't but I'm not about to turn to someone who does not take his or her job seriously enough to observe social etiquette and dress up well for the job.

There is a reason why these rules are put in place and looking at them, I can't understand why these rules are so difficult to adhere to. There's talk that men are now telling women how to dress. I'm not going to agree with that. First of all, women want to have equal right, they don't want to be seen as an inferior sex and have proved many times over they're just good as any man. So what is this maneno about getting worked up about what to wear to court?

This directive is at both men and women, not just women. It's hypocritical that people make it a gender issue when it clearly isn't. I don't want my lawyer dressed up like a fancy peacock in a Hawaiian print shirt, shorts or jeans and open toe sandals.

Also I just pooh-poohed away the people who started bringing up the Chief Justice's ear stud. Cheap shots, really. It's a piece of jewellery, not an item of clothing that exposes bodily bits that are deemed inappropriate in a court of law. I'm often amazed at what us Kenyans deem as newsworthy when we are always surrounded by far more pressing matters. Our IDPs for instance!

When I joined Radio Africa, there's a clause in my contract that expects me to dress smart for my job. It's in the handbook, like with any other handbook anywhere in the world.

Decorum of sorts is required and I'm all for it. I nod in approval at things like that and you can call me old-fashioned all you want. These kinds of rules and regulations are put in place with good reason and guess what - it's not just our law society that has such dress codes.

Go to Google when you get the time to get off Twitter to rant for no use, and check what other countries' law societies have as their dress codes.

There's no big deal that they have to dress smart. You don't expect a fireman to turn up in a bikini to fight fire do you? Exactly. Let the lawyers dress up the way their job dictates them to and let's put this passion of discussing into working out more pressing matters like finding a way to settle our IDPs five years on.

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