A female Knesset aide said Monday she was forbidden from entering the Knesset last week for wearing a dress that guards said was “too short,” in what is at least the second case in a week of Knesset guards denying entry to women because of their clothing.
Moria Silfen, an aide to MK Eli Alaluf (Kulanu), told the Hebrew-language daily Haaretz that she was stopped at the entrance to the Knesset last Wednesday for 40 minutes, and was told by guards that she could not enter on account of her dress.
Silfen said that the guards offered her a pair of pants that “‘were discarded there,” but that after she persisted in her refusal they told her to go home and change.
Two hours later, Silfen said that the commander of the Knesset Guard called her and requested that she “not cause them such anguish again.”
The news of incident came after it was reported that Shaked Hasson, an aide to Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli, said that she was checked by security forces and held for breaching new guidelines on appropriate attire that ban miniskirts.
She was released after Michaeli personally intervened.
Hasson claimed that she was wearing a mid-thigh dress and leggings. She said that the guards apologized and explained to her that she was in breach of the dress code, according to Haaretz, which first reported the story, and which she later confirmed to The Times of Israel.
A Knesset spokesperson said the incident with Hasson had nothing to do with “modesty,” a term often used to denote dress deemed appropriate by religious authorities, but rather having a dress code.
“Having a dress code to enter the Knesset is normal practice and [similar codes] apply in parliaments all around the world,” Knesset spokesman Yotam Yakir said.
He also said that the rules published last month, which banned miniskirts, short dresses, tank tops, shirts with political slogans and other attire, were not new, but rather a clarification.
“Refreshing the dress code a few weeks ago was intended, as much as is possible, to clarify the existing rules, but it did not include any significant changes to previous policy,” he said. “Moreover, members of the Knesset Guard were instructed to approach infringements with minimum damage to the sensitivities of visitors coming to the building.”
Yakir said the Knesset was investigating if Hasson was examined by female guards, as is stipulated in the rules.
Silfan told Haaretz that she was not checked by female guards and that “no woman approached me at any stage” during the incident last week, only learning afterward that male guards cannot prevent a woman’s entry to the Knesset on account of her dress.
She described the incident as “humiliating,” adding that “there does not need to be any connection between the length of a dress and having a respectful appearance.”
In addition to Silfan and Hasson, Haaretz reported that two other women who work at the Knesset were prevented from entering in recent weeks due to claims to that their dresses were too short.
The incidents come after the Knesset issued a revised dress code for employees and visitors in November, banning miniskirts and short dresses.
The new conditions apply to all employees including custodians, parliamentary assistants, permanent employees, students and interns.
“Entrance to the Knesset is permitted only in appropriate attire (no tank/spaghetti tops, cropped tops, shorts or three-quarter length trousers, ripped trousers, shirts with political slogans, short skirts and short dresses, flip-flops or open-back clogs). These rules apply to adults and youth aged 14 and over, ” a notice on the Knesset website reads.