Malaysia's education minister has reportedly defended the uniform for girls at government schools, rejecting claims it is too sexy and encourages rape and premarital sex.
A Malaysian Islamic group last week condemned the uniform of a white blouse worn with a blue skirt or pinafore, saying it was too transparent and "a distraction to men."
It said that "covering up" according to Islamic guidelines was important to fend off social ills including "rape, sexual harassment and even premarital sex which involve schoolgirls in their teens."
But Education Minister Hishamuddin Tun Hussein said it was wrong to pin the blame for sex crimes on students or their dress.
"From what I have seen, clothing is not the main consideration of those who commit despicable acts. Usually, there is an underlying problem, such as a disease, that makes them behave that way," he said according to The Star daily.
"It is unfair to punish women and children and the clothes they wear for the act of rapists," he said.
In multicultural Malaysia, home to majority-Muslim Malays as well as ethnic Chinese and Indians, female students at government schools have a choice of wearing a white blouse with a knee-length skirt or pinafore.
They may also wear a "baju kurung" which is a traditional long top and skirt, and a headscarf is optional for Malay students.
National Islamic Students Association of Malaysia vice-president Munirah Bahari KUALA LUMPUR (AFP)
"It becomes a distraction to men, who are drawn to it, whether or not they like looking at it," she said of the current uniform.
"All this leads to babies born out of wedlock and to an extent, even prostitution," she said.